Two years after 24-year-old Jose I. Escobar Menendez was shot to death on a Sterling street, the trial opened Monday for the first of two suspects in the case.
Gavin Collins, 23, faces charges of first-degree murder, robbery, and firearm violations in connection with the July 8, 2020, shooting and additional drug and firearms charges stemming from his arrest two days later.
The trial is expected to take three weeks and Monday’s time in court was spent assembling a jury of 12 plus four alternates available to hear the case.
The second suspect, Joshua Hunter, is scheduled for another three-week trial in October.
According to witness testimony during the District Court preliminary hearing, Menendez traveled from Winchester to Sterling early that morning to meet up with a friend he had recently met. Detectives allege that Collins and Hunter arrived at the Village at Potomac Falls apartment complex at about 1:55 a.m., at which point an area resident testified she heard at least two people start talking, then yelling before she heard a “pop.” At about 3:10 a.m., another resident noticed Menendez’s body lying in the street along Emerald Point Terrace near the intersection with Winding Road with blood surrounding it. Menendez’s 2019 Nissan Sentra was stolen during the incident.