A 13-year-old girl with special needs was beheaded after watching her grandmother fatally stabbed in an Alabama cemetery, authorities say.
Yoni Aguilar, 26, (pictured left) and Israel Palomino, 34, were arrested and charged earlier this month in the June 4 murders of Oralia Mendoza and her granddaughter, Mariah Lopez, according to AL.com.
Aguilar was in court on Thursday, and Madison County sheriff's investigator Stacy Rutherford testified about the case, according to the Cox Media Group.
Aguilar, Palomino and Mendoza, among others, traveled to Norcross, Georgia on June 2 to pick up a quarter kilo of methamphetamine for the Sinaloa cartel, Rutherford said. Apparently, Mendoza had ties to the criminal organization, widely considered one of the biggest and most dangerous drug cartels in Mexico.
On the way back from the trip, Palomino became suspicious he was being set up, Rutherford said.
On June 4, Aguilar and Palomino told Mendoza and her granddaughter Mariah Lopez they were going to take them somewhere safe, Rutherford testified. They went to the Moon Cemetary in Owens Cross Roads. Palomino then got out of the car with Mendoza and they argued about the drug deal. Palomino stabbed her, Rutherford said, and she died.
Because the girl witnessed the slaying, the pair felt they had to kill her, Rutherford said.
They took the girl to a secluded area nearby, Rutherford said. Aguilar told investigators he was scared of Palomino, who forced him to kill the girl. He said he held the knife while Palomino moved his arms back and forth in a sawing motion. That’s how they cut off the girls head, Rutherford said.
Investigators later found the body and identified it through dental records. They arrested the two men and found knives - believed to be the murder weapons - under each man's pillow. They also found blood inside the car, and Aguilar and Palomino’s cellphones were near the area of the murders at the approximate times they occured, police said. Both men are charged with two counts of capital murder. Palomino's court appearance on Monday was rescheduled for a later date.
[Photos: Madison County Sheriff's Office]