EVERETT — A Snohomish County jury found Lendsay Meza guilty as charged Thursday for helping to carry out the torture-murders of two young men.
In a trial that lasted three weeks, prosecutors accused Meza, 22, of the Lynnwood area, of helping her boyfriend slowly kill Mohamed Adan and Ezekiel Kelly in July 2018.
Superior Court Judge Bruce Weiss read the verdict to a hushed courtroom around 1 p.m. Thursday. After jurors were polled and dismissed, detectives and victim advocates embraced Kelly’s mother, LaTonage Kelly, in the gallery.
“We waited this long to get the justice for Ezekiel and Mohamed, and that means so much,” the mother said, brushing away tears. “And I hope that Mohamed’s family will be able to feel some type of relief.”
She thanked investigators — from Mukilteo, Arlington and the county sheriff’s office — for their hard work on the case.
Meza is the third person convicted of murder in the case. Her boyfriend, Anthony Hernandez-Cano, then 18, held petty grudges against both of the victims. The boyfriend is serving a life sentence in prison for two counts of aggravated murder, while his friend, Hassani Hassani, is serving 35 years for his part in the second murder.
This week Meza testified that she was not a willing participant in the abductions. Both of the slain men were held hostage in the back of her Saturn sedan on separate days.
Deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson argued she may not have been happy to help her boyfriend, but she certainly went out of her way to help cover up the crimes.
“You do not have to be enthusiastically aiding,” he said in a closing argument. “You do not have to be gleefully aiding.”
Adan, 21, of Seattle, was tortured, burned on the face and beaten by Hernandez-Cano, then shot and left dead on the outskirts of Blue Stilly Park near Arlington.
Meza testified that she was in the car that morning, but not awake. A cellphone photo showed her looking out the car window in the direction of Hernandez-Cano, wearing gloves and holding a gun, at the time and place of Adan’s killing, according to prosecutors. Her defense attorney, Walter Peale, told the jury it wasn’t clear if Meza was alert in the picture.
A crime lab also found Meza’s DNA on jumper cables — used to bind Adan, prosecutors said — inside the couple’s garage.
Kelly, 22, of Everett, was tortured by Hernandez-Cano and Hassani in the back of the same car.
On the witness stand, Meza acknowledged she pulled over at one point, went into the woods and struck Kelly at least twice with an aluminum baseball bat, but she claimed she did that out of fear of Hernandez-Cano. Hassani later shot Kelly to death at an abandoned home in Mukilteo.
Meza testified that she didn’t hear the gunshots.
Jurors evidently did not find Meza’s story credible. They began deliberating in the late afternoon Wednesday and returned the verdicts less than 24 hours later.
Meza was technically found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder for kidnapping Adan in the furtherance of his murder; kidnapping Kelly in the furtherance of his murder; and participating in the actual murder of Kelly.
All three counts were committed with the aid of a firearm, according to the jury’s findings. That will add mandatory time to her sentence. Meza faces decades behind bars at a court hearing set for March 19.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.