Janelle Monroy, the wife of convicted cop killer Luis Bracamontes, was found guilty Thursday of murder and nine other counts by a jury that decided she had helped her husband in a rampage that led to the 2014 slaying of Placer sheriff’s Deputy Michael Davis Jr.
Sitting expressionless until the very end, Monroy listened as the clerk in Sacramento Superior court Judge Steve White’s courtroom read the guilty verdicts one after another, convicting her of first-degree murder in the Davis slaying, as well as attempted murder, carjacking, attempted carjacking and possession of an assault weapon.
Finally, after jurors had left and family members began to hug each other and shake hands in the courthouse lobby, she teared up and appeared to sniffle. But she made no outbursts as her husband did when he was convicted last Friday and promised to “kill more cops soon.”
Monroy, 41, had been accused of helping Bracamontes as he set out on a methamphetamine-fueled crime spree that started with him shooting Sacramento sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver at an Arden Way Motel 6 and ended with his shooting Davis to death in Auburn with an assault rifle.
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Monroy was not accused of pulling a trigger at any point during the Oct. 24, 2014, slayings, but was charged in Davis’ murder because she had moved the AR-15 rifle from car to car as Bracamontes carjacked motorists trying to flee law enforcement.
After deliberating for portions of five days, the six-man, six-woman jury delivered guilty verdicts on all counts, agreeing with prosecutors Rod Norgaard and Dave Tellman, who portrayed her as a willing participant.
Defense attorney Pete Kmeto had argued that she lived in fear of her violent, drug-addled husband, and had been the victim of abuse and threats to her life that gave her no choice when he finally snapped.
The jurors didn’t buy the argument, and Kmeto sat stone-faced as the verdicts were read. He politely declined comment after the court session ended. Monroy now faces sentencing March 23 and could receive 25 years to life.
Bracamontes could face the death penalty in a new penalty phase trial that begins March 5.
The trial was held with separate juries for the two defendants, and Monroy’s had been deliberating since Thursday. The panel left the courtroom Thursday and disappeared from sight before reporters could get to them.
Family members of the slain officers have declined to comment publicly until the case is completely over, but they could be seen smiling and nodding their heads in agreement as the guilty verdicts were read.
“I’m glad that we got the verdict we got,” Placer County Sheriff Devon Bell said after court, adding that he believed the jurors took their duty seriously.
“They’ve been fantastic and I’m just eternally grateful for justice...,” Bell said. “They did their job correctly and with due diligence.”
Kmeto’s closing argument portrayed Monroy as a woman who had been threatened repeatedly by her husband, including along the trip they took from their Salt Lake City home that led them to Sacramento.
Bracamontes pointed guns at her, fired a pistol in her direction while driving and accused her of having an affair with his brother, evidence showed. During Kmeto’s argument, Monroy wept silently, sometimes resting her head on the defense table.
But Norgaard’s argument reminded jurors that Monroy had several chances at escaping her husband, including when she moved one of the vehicles he had carjacked while he was stealing another one.
Unlike Bracamontes, she testified in her own defense, but did not appear to help her cause. Instead of appearing as a sympathetic victim, Monroy was somewhat combative under questioning by Norgaard.
Jurors apparently had been wrangling Thursday over one of the attempted carjacking counts involving Anthony Holmes, a motorist whom Bracamontes shot five times while attempting to take his car.
Holmes survived – prosecutors referred to him in court as “the luckiest man in the world” – and jurors asked for details from White Thursday on how to address that count.
In the end, they agreed Monroy was guilty of attempting to murder Holmes and of attempting to carjack his vehicle.
They also found her guilty of the attempted murders of Placer Deputies Chuck Bardo, Joe Roseli and Jeff Davis, who engaged in a firefight in Auburn with Bracamontes before his capture. Jeff Davis, who is not related to the slain deputy, was wounded.