LaTonage Kelly sheds a tear as she listens Thursday to a Snohomish County jury’s guilty verdict in the murder of her son and another man at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

LaTonage Kelly sheds a tear as she listens Thursday to a Snohomish County jury’s guilty verdict in the murder of her son and another man at the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Verdict: Girlfriend guilty of helping in torture-murders

Lendsay Meza, 22, of the Lynnwood area, was convicted of taking part in the slayings of two men.

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.

Lendsay Meza listens as a Snohomish County jury announces its verdict Thursday during her trial in Superior Court for the torture-murders of two men in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Lendsay Meza listens as a Snohomish County jury announces its verdict Thursday during her trial in Superior Court for the torture-murders of two men in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

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.

Ezekiel Kelly

Ezekiel Kelly

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; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Granite Falls ‘10-foot alligator’ is actually a tegu named ‘Tazz’

Anybody who spots the docile lizard, last seen near Granite Falls, is asked to notify 911, so Tazz can be reunited with owner.

Photos by Olivia Vanni / The Herald
Gabby Bullock sits on her bed in a room she shares with another housemate on June 14 in Everett.
‘We don’t have openings’: SnoCo recovery houses struggle with demand

Advocates say the homes are critical for addiction recovery. But home prices make starting a sober living house difficult.

Melinda Grenier serves patrons at her coffee truck called Hay Girl Coffee during the third annual Arlington Pride event in Arlington, Washington on Sunday, June 2, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Food safety team defends its work: it’s a ‘high pressure, thankless’ job

Management tried to set the record straight about long permit delays in Snohomish County.

Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. (Olivia Vanni/The Herald)
Global tech outage leaves a mark on Snohomish County

The CrowdStrike software update hit some systems at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and briefly disrupted 911 operations.

Performers joust during the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire at Sky Meadows Park in Snohomish, Washington, on Sunday, Aug. 06, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Royalty and revelry: The spirit of the Renaissance comes to Monroe

The annual Renaissance fair will open its doors every weekend from July 20 to Aug. 18

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.