Crime - Sacto 911

Woodland man convicted of first degree murder and sexual assault at Cottonwood Massage

A Woodland man has been convicted of murder in addition to a separate conviction for sexual assault, according to a news release from the Yolo County District Attorney’s office.

Rohail Sarwar, 28, was convicted of murder with the special circumstance of lying in wait, committing the murder in commission of a burglary, and an enhancement for the use of a weapon. The sexual assault conviction is from a separate victim, which occurred about a month before the murder.

Prosecutors said that in late July or early August of 2018, Sarwar received a massage at Cottonwood Massage in Woodland, which is now closed. Afterward, Sarwar attacked the masseuse, demanding sex. Sarwar left after a brief struggle; the woman did not report the assault for fear she would not be believed, prosecutors said.

According to prosecutors, on August 21, 2018, Sarwar called his mistress and demanded sex, but she was unable to meet him. Sarwar then walked to Cottonwood Plaza, where Cottonwood Massage is located. Sarwar went to a liquor store, purchased a knife, and then monitored the front door of Cottonwood Massage for several minutes. When the business was void of customers, Sarwar entered the building and requested a massage from Junying Lu, the only masseuse in the parlor. Sarwar then stabbed Lu 14 times, four of which were fatal.

Officers conducting the investigation found video of Sarwar burying the murder weapon, monitoring the entrance to Cottonwood Massage and entering the business, prosecutors said. Security footage from a nearby business showed Sarwar walking the streets after the murder, his hands covered in blood, according to the release. The victim’s blood was later found at Sarwar’s home and Sarwar’s fingerprint was found in the victim’s blood on the murder weapon, prosecutors said.

The trial began July 15 and a verdict was reached Thursday after six hours of deliberation. Sarwar was convicted of all charges, and all the special circumstances were found to be true.

Sarwar is to be sentenced on September 12 and faces life in prison without parole.

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David Garza, from Saint Mary’s College of California, is a Sacramento native. He is an opinion writer with an interest in human relationship stories, and community issues.