Prosecutor expects to present child beheading case to grand jury this fall

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A judge is urging prosecutors to keep the case moving forward against two men charged in the grisly killing of a Madison County woman and her granddaughter.

Yoni Aguilar and Israel Palomino are both charged with two counts of capital murder in connection to the deaths of Oralia Mendoza and Mariah Lopez.

Left: Yoni Martinez Aguilar Right: Israel Gonzalez Palomino
(Courtesy: Madison County Sheriff's Office)

It has been almost a year to the day since Israel Palomino was arrested. Thursday he appeared in court because his attorney would like to review documents from his time in jail. But during the hearing, the judge expressed to the prosecution that she doesn't want this case to get tied up as it waits to go to the grand jury.

The district attorney explained that due to the magnitude of the case, a year isn't an extended amount of time to prepare to move the case forward.

Since this is a capital murder case, Israel Palomino must be present all of his hearings. Thursday he was walked to the courtroom in shackles.  He has been in the Madison County Jail since his arrest.

In early June, Oralia Mendoza was reported missing and law enforcement was told she may be in danger.

June 7th, 2018, the body of 13-year-old Moriah Lopez, Mendoza's granddaughter,  was found on Lemley Drive in Owens Crossroads. The child had been beheaded.

A few days later Palomino and Yoni Aguilar were arrested. Investigators say Aguilar's confession allowed officers to locate Mendoza's body.

The following details were revealed in court testimony last year:

  • Mendoza was involved with the Sinaloa Cartel.
  • Days before the killings Mendoza went with Aguilar, Palomino and another woman to pick up a meth shipment in Georgia.
  • It got violent when Palomino thought it was a setup.
  • Mendoza thought she and her granddaughter were being taken somewhere safe.
  • But the men took them to Moon Cemetery on Cave Springs Road.
  • Palomino and Mendoza got in a fight and he stabbed her.
  • Because her granddaughter witnessed it she was killed.

The district attorney told the judge he expects to be able to ready to take Palomino's case to the grand jury sometime in September or October.

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