Elijah Dupree Goethe got an earful Friday from the mother of the man he shot in the face.
She started with his name.
“Elijah is a Hebrew name that means ‘my God is Yahweh,’” Jeia Lauria told him. “That name was placed on you, and yet you chose a course of hate, anger and violence. Whether you knew it or not, you forfeited your peace. You haven’t felt the full weight of the decision you made that night. The weight you bear will get heavier and heavier as you will see the effects this will have on you and the ones who love you.”
The woman’s remarks came just before Goethe, 23, was sentenced to prison for 94 years to life. A jury identified him as the gunman who shot a bullet in D’Andre Lawrence’s face. The same panel also convicted him of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Joseph Washington, 20, the young man sitting with Lawrence in a car the morning of Oct. 12, 2008, in a neighborhood near Sacramento Executive Airport.
That morning, Goethe and an accomplice – gang members in a set that had just been attacked – went looking for revenge. They wound up driving down the 2200 block of Mangrum Avenue at 4:44 in the morning where the victims sat in Lawrence’s Buick. Authorities believe it was Goethe’s accomplice who shot and killed Washington.
Deputy District Attorney Thomas Asker said investigators know who the other person is but that there was not enough evidence to prosecute him. The suspect has since been convicted in a separate case of pointing a gun at a motorist in Old Sacramento and sentenced to six years in prison, according to court records.
Investigators lifted a fingerprint of Goethe’s off the car in which Washington and Lawrence were sitting. Another key piece of evidence against Goethe was a so-called “adoptive admission” attributed to him by his father, who said when he asked his son why he shot up the car, the reply was, “Just because.”
The defendant’s father, Gary Goethe Sr., denied the conversation took place, but detectives had it on tape. The elder Goethe, a former supervising inspector with the state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, mentioned the conversation with his son while he was being recorded by undercover agents in a separate case. They were investigating him on suspicion of shaking down drug-treatment providers. Gary Goethe Sr. was convicted and sentenced to 41 months in federal prison.
Neither Washington nor Lawrence were gang members, and neither had any criminal history, authorities said. The two of them had just returned from Oakland and were sitting in the car outside a friend’s house when they were shot. Lawrence had a gun in the car, to protect himself from situations like this one, officials said.
Outside court, Joseph Washington’s mother said he graduated from Berkeley High School and had been working for the public-private Youth Employment Partnership Inc., supervising a street cleanup program in Oakland at the time of his death. Lawrence worked in the environmental services program for a Sacramento hospital, his parents said.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette called the attack by Goethe and his partner on Washington and Lawrence “really just an ambush.”
“You rolled up on somebody who was completely unsuspecting in a place where they thought they had safety,” Marlette told Goethe.
It took the judge a couple minutes to read off all the crimes and enhancements that jurors attributed to Goethe in their verdicts returned June 13. When he was finished, it added up to the very substantial term.
“So, Mr. Goethe, you’re going to die in state prison,” Marlette told him.
Lawrence’s mother added that when Goethe is in prison, “The weight will get heavy when you are surrounded by hard men yet you want the comfort of a woman.” As the father of a 6-year-old girl, Goethe’s burden will increase, Lauria said, “when your child not only wants but needs the love and reassurance that only a father can give, and you are not there to give it.”
“Your bondage started long before you were arrested,” she said. “It started in your mind, Elijah, your emotions, the way you walk and the way you talk, and I tell you these things not because I want you to suffer, but in hope that one day you will look at what you have become, fully aware of the hurt and damage you caused not only to yourself, not only to your community, not only to our families, but to yours.”
Lauria told him, “Pray, Elijah. Pray hard ... Pray that the iron that binds your mind be broken.”
Call The Bee’s Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo