A massage transaction that “went bad” provided the backdrop to the shooting death of a man in a midtown apartment last year, according to testimony in a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Sacramento Superior Court.
Two defendants in the case, Jeremy Daniel McMahon, 32, and Michelle Kiyomi Okumura, 24, each talked to police about the massage and how it played into the Oct. 8, 2013, shooting death of Eric Solen Jackson, 22, in the Capitol Manor Apartment at O and 17th streets, two Sacramento police detectives testified.
Prosecutors have charged McMahon and Okumura, who had a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, with first-degree murder, with a special circumstance – that it was accompanied by torture, the burning of Jackson’s chest with hot butter knives. The prosecution charged that McMahon and Okumura lured Jackson to their apartment, tied him up with an electrical cord at gunpoint, held him for two days and that McMahon shot him to death when Jackson tried to escape.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley ordered McMahon and Okumura held over for trial at the conclusion of the two-hour preliminary hearing. The judge scheduled the trial for Jan. 15.
Detective Kyle Jasperson testified that McMahon admitted that he “dispersed two rounds toward (Jackson’s) lower extremities” in the shooting that was reported at 3:51 a.m.
In the interview, McMahon said he took the man captive in his response to a previous massage encounter between Jackson and Okumura. McMahon told a friend in a telephone conversation from the downtown jail that the earlier massage “went bad” when Jackson attempted a sex act with Okumura. He said in the phone call that they had Jackson return to the apartment so they could take him captive.
McMahon told Jasperson in the interview that he heard a “loud commotion” when Jackson tried to escape and found him trying to shake open a glass door. After the shooting, McMahon said he took his .45-caliber handgun outside and tucked it underneath a trash receptacle in an alley between N an O streets, according to Jasperson’s testimony.
The two defendants were arrested the morning of the shooting. At police headquarters on Freeport Boulevard that day, detectives left Okumura and McMahon alone in an interview room while the videotape rolled.
“He deserved it,” Okumura told McMahon, in apparent reference to Jackson’s shooting, Jasperson testified.
The detective said McMahon took pictures of Jackson during the two days they held him in the apartment, including one in which Jackson was fastened to Okumura’s massage table with the electrical cord. McMahon admitted to strapping him to the table, Jasperson testified.
Asked about the burn marks on Jackson’s chest, McMahon “did not account for them,” Jasperson testified. Asked if Okumura inflicted the burns, McMahon “said he didn’t think so,” Jasperson testified. “He didn’t think she was capable of it.”
Okumura is named in the criminal complaint with having burned McMahon.
In her interview with police, Okumura told detectives she “does massage” and that Jackson had been a customer of hers once, Detective Brian Dedonder testified. She said in the interview that she is the one who shot Jackson, saying the “problem” was “about money,” Dedonder testified. The detective said she told him “it appeared Eric (Jackson) had a crush on Michelle, which upset Jeremy (McMahon), and that there had been a rape attempt on Michelle that upset Jeremy.”
There was no other suggestion of a rape during the course of the hearing, and Deputy District Attorney Sheri Greco declined comment when asked about Okumura’s statement in the interview.
Dedonder testified that detectives placed Okumura in an interview room with someone other than McMahon, and that person asked “if she was going to take the rap for it, and she nodded her head up and down” in the affirmative.
The detective testified that investigators found a notebook in the apartment with what appeared to be a diagram of Eric Jackson’s mother’s house, with markings that matched the investigators’ examination of the property showing that somebody had done some digging in the area.
Another police detective, Thomas Shrum, testified that a friend of Okumura’s told them the defendant “caught somebody breaking into their house and they tied him up, and they asked for a gardening tool, and that was a shovel.”
Shrum said the friend told police Okumura said she planned to go to their captive’s house “and dig up money or some stocks or something valuable like that.”
Besides the murder, Okumura and McMahon are charged with torture and false imprisonment. If convicted on the special circumstance of a torture murder, they would each face a life sentence with no chance of parole. Greco said the DA’s Office is not seeking the death penalty in the case.
McMahon, who has a previous felony conviction of making criminal threats, also is charged with being an ex-convict in possession of a firearm.
He is being represented in the case by John Brennan, while Paul Irish is defending Okumura.