A reconstituted jury needed only a day of deliberations to convict a man of double murder in the shooting deaths three years ago of two people whose bodies he stuffed into trash cans.
The panel came back with its verdicts on Douglas Keith Elmore late Thursday afternoon, after Sacramento Superior Court Judge Maryanne G. Gilliard earlier in the day removed one juror for lying during the jury selection process.
With an alternate inserted onto the panel, the jury returned the verdicts read in court Friday that found Elmore, 27, guilty of first-degree murder in the Oct. 11, 2009, shooting deaths of Shawn Cope, 24, and his girlfriend, Tammula Robbins, 23, in a house they lived in on 39th Street in Sacramento's south area.
According to court records, a juror sent a note to the judge Tuesday about a problem that had arisen during deliberations that began late Monday afternoon. A second letter came in Wednesday saying that one of the jurors was not following the rules of deliberations.
Gilliard then questioned each of the jurors individually and out of public view. On Thursday, she ordered that the one juror be taken off the panel for "concealment of relevant facts and giving false answers," according to a minute order of Thursday's proceedings.
In court, the jurors said that they had reached votes of 11-1 in the case, but did not indicate which way it went. Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of the proceedings said the juror admitted to having an anti-law enforcement bias.
In a statement after the verdict was read, defense attorney Alan Whisenand said that "juror replacement is extremely irregular." He said he expects it to be the basis of any appeal that would be filed on Elmore's behalf.
Elmore had been staying in the house in the 5700 block of 39th Street for about three weeks with his mother, Cope, Robbins and Robbins' mother before he shot and killed the couple while they slept on a mattress in the living room.
Their bodies were discovered 12 days later when a new resident of the house was dumping a trash can in an empty field near the 39th Street house and Robbins' body came tumbling out. Cope's body was found in another trash can back at the house.
Elmore's mother, Rita Rose, provided some of the key evidence in the case. She told sheriff's detectives in two interviews she heard gunshots and saw her son standing over the victims with a pistol in his hand. She said she also saw bloody bedding that had been removed to a bathroom. She told detectives she also saw her son "fiddling" around the trash cans on the side of the house.
Deputy District Attorney Charles Gonzalez said in his closing arguments that Rose's statements to detectives fit perfectly with the forensic evidence.
At trial, however, Rose recanted her statements to the detectives, saying her recollections were a "hallucination."
Authorities said they were never able to learn the motive for the killings.
"The sad thing is," Gonzalez said in an interview after the verdict Friday, "even Shawn and Tammy probably didn't know the reason, because Douglas Elmore shot them both in the head while they were asleep in their beds. He then hid their bodies in trash cans as if their lives were no more valuable than a cardboard pizza box."
"We are overjoyed and extremely grateful that this jury's hard work ensured that justice was done," Gonzalez said.
Cope's mother, Sherry Rowe, said she was "very happy," and Robbins' uncle, John Bernardino, said he was "relieved" and "just glad (Elmore's) mother snitched out on him."
Gilliard scheduled Elmore's sentencing for May 18. The special-circumstance allegation of multiple murders found true by the jury likely means Elmore will be sentenced to prison for life without possibility of parole.