Carlos I. Menjivar

FREEHOLD – A Monmouth County jury has convicted a Long Branch man for the 2013 double murder of a couple found dead inside a Sairs Avenue apartment and he now faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Carlos I. Menjivar, 26, of 45 North Fifth Ave. in Long Branch, was found guilty of murder and weapons offenses for the Mar. 24, 2013 slayings of Maria Yolanda Catejo-Munoz, 35, and Fredis Orlando Ventura, 33, both of Long Branch. The guilty verdict of two counts of first-degree Murder, one count each of third-degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and fourth-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon comes after a 2-month trial before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge David F. Bauman. Menjivar faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole when he returns for sentencing on Feb. 1, 2019.

Menjivar was arrested following a joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Bureau, Long Branch Police Department and Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation began after Catejo-Munoz was reported missing around noon on Sunday, March 24, prompting a search for her whereabouts. The search led Long Branch Police to the Sairs Avenue apartment of Ventura, who had been romantically involved with Catejo-Munoz. At around 4 p.m. on Mar. 25, 2013, both victims were discovered dead inside the apartment with multiple stab wounds.

Evidence presented at the trial revealed that Ventura invited Menjivar, a third man and Catejo-Munoz to his residence in the early morning hours of Mar. 24, 2013. After the third man had left the apartment, Menjivar fatally stabbed the two victims.

During the investigation, police learned Menjivar had been in possession of a knife while inside Ventura’s apartment and had asked the other man there not to tell the police about the knife. Approximately 21 months later, on Dec. 16, 2014, Menjivar admitted to detectives that he stabbed Ventura in the neck with a knife, but claimed he had been forced to do so by others who had also killed Catejo-Munoz. DNA, forensic evidence located at the crime scene and his own phone records disproved Menjivar’s version of events.

Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Paul Alexander and Ian D. Brater handled the trial for the State.

Menjivar is represented by Allison Friedman, Esq., and Lisa Maglone, Esq., both of Freehold.

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