FREEHOLD – Carlos I. Menjivar, 26, of 45 North Fifth Ave. in Long Branch, was sentenced on Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2013 double murder of a couple found dead inside a Sairs Avenue apartment, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Monmouth County Presiding Criminal Judge David F. Bauman sentenced Menjivar to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for the murder of Maria Yolanda Catejo-Munoz, 35, and a consecutive term of life imprisonment for the murder of Fredis Orlando Ventura, 33, both of Long Branch.
During the sentencing, Judge Bauman highlighted the brutal nature of these killings, stating that “the defendant did not simply murder the victims, he butchered them.”
Menjivar was previously found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, and one count of third-degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and one count of fourth-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon on December 18, 2018 following a two-month jury trial presided over by Judge Bauman.
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 March 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.
The case was prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Paul Alexander and Ian D. Brater.
Menjivar is represented by Allison Friedman, Esq., and Lisa Maglone, Esq., both of Freehold.