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Erick Gael Hernández-Méndez, the 20-year-old accused in North Carolina of the murder of his “roommate” whom he allegedly married in a marriage of convenience to obtain permanent residence or a “green card” faces the penalty of death.
During his first court appearance a week ago, the judge informed Hernández-Méndez that he could be sentenced to life imprisonment or the death penalty if convicted of the crime.
Christina María Matos was murdered on April 4 by multiple stab wounds to the neck, two days after her 20th birthday.
An anonymous call for a security check led officers to the student residence located at 1505 Hillsborough Street in Raleigh.
Matos, of Venezuelan origin, lived with Hernández-Méndez and with a third young man with whom he also studied at Clayton High School.
A WRAL report indicates that Hernández-Méndez and Matos, of Mexican descent, had been friends since middle school and graduated from high school last year.
At the moment, the authorities have not specified the motive for the crime. Hernandez-Mendez faces charges of murder in the first degree.
The defendant requested legal representation through the office of capital defenders.
However, the version that a friend of Matos gave to the press shed light on the possible circumstances that led to the attack.
Allegedly, Hernández-Méndez had agreed to pay Matos $ 15,000 if he married her in a marriage of convenience to obtain permanent residence or a green card.
Savannah Ferrell, a friend of the young woman, told ABC11: “He came to Christina with hopes that they could get married and he could be a legal citizen, and he promised, ‘ok, if we get married, I’ll give you $ 15,000 and we’ll be as if we were separated and eventually divorced in three years. ‘ Christina had the full intention of just getting divorced, getting her paycheck, and disappearing. “
The couple received the marriage license on February 12, and they were married on March 29, according to The News & Observer report.
The link became official less than a week before the murder.
Matos’s family said they met Hernández Méndez briefly when they helped the young woman move into the apartment.
Yolanda Matos, mother of the occisa, told ABC11, that the apartment at The Signature was her daughter’s first. The young woman resided at the site while working and taking radiology courses at Wake Technical Community College.
It is not clear whether Hernández-Méndez was studying, only working, or both.
Eric Curry, spokesman for the Wake County Office, indicated that the defendant does not face an arrest warrant by the United States immigration authorities nor does he have a prior criminal record.
Hernández-Méndez remains in the county detention center without bond.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.