RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The man charged with murdering his 20-year-old roommate over the weekend in North Carolina attended the vigil for the victim, according to friends.
Eric Gael Hernandez-Mendez, 20, was arrested Wednesday and charged with murdering Christina Maria Matos.
The two lived as roommates at the Signature 1505 apartments on Hillsborough Street.
Hernandez-Mendez made a brief appearance Thursday before Wake County Judge Eric Chasse.
Chasse informed Hernandez-Mendez that he faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole if he is found guilty.
Hernandez-Mendez requested a public defender during the appearance and Chasse granted that request.
No other information was released during the appearance.
Matos’ mother, Yolanda, along with other family members and friends, were in attendance in the courtroom.
They remained quiet through Hernandez-Mendez’s brief appearance.
Afterward, friends of Matos spoke with News13 affiliate WNCN’s Bridget Chapman and said Hernandez-Mendez attended a vigil for the victim.
“He has the nerve to try and show up to her candle lighting, carry the balloons, hug her family, post her pictures on social media,” Savannah Ferrell said.
Yolanda Matos said she wants justice.
“I want justice for Christina. I can’t believe only one person did that to her, because she’s a very strong girl,” Yolanda Matos said.
His next court date is April 29 at 9 a.m.
On Sunday, officers responded to the 1500 block of Hillsborough Street after it was reported that Matos didn’t show up for her birthday party on Saturday.
She was previously a student at Wake Tech – but was not registered for this semester – and had just turned 20 years old on Friday.
Her parents said she went out to celebrate with friends Friday night and that was the last time she was seen.
Raleigh police have not revealed a motive or a cause of death.