Three men who teamed with two female strippers to plan the robbery of a Carmichael man in his apartment three years ago were found guilty of first-degree murder Monday by a Sacramento Superior Court jury.
Patrick Joseph Godines, 29, Jerome McPherson, 28, and Travis Monroe Mabson, 34, face life terms in prison with no chance of parole for the July 29, 2011, shooting death of Michael Sanderson in his residence on Manzanita Avenue.
“I want to thank the jury,” Deputy District Attorney Caroline Park said after the verdicts. “This was not an easy case. I appreciate their patience and their hard work. The system worked.”
Prosecutors charged that McPherson planned the robbery after learning that Sanderson won a $50,000 workers’ compensation judgment.
McPherson was accused of hiring two strippers to distract Sanderson the night of his death. The pair, Jeanette Campbell, 27, and Aubry Toews, 25, pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter before trial in exchange for testifying. They are scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 12 and are likely to receive six years in prison.
Defense attorneys argued their clients had withdrawn from the robbery plan in the moments before its execution. They said that Sanderson, who had been smoking methamphetamine, acted in a paranoid fashion while he and a friend were being entertained by the strippers. The lawyers maintained that Godines, the shooter in the killing, only sought to rescue one of the girls from inside the apartment. They said Godines shot Sanderson when the victim lunged at him.
“I’m obviously disappointed with the results of the jury’s verdict,” said Mike Wise, the attorney for McPherson, the purported driver the night of the robbery. “We put on a fantastic case for withdrawal. (McPherson) clearly showed he changed his mind, and he conveyed to everybody in the car he had changed his mind.”
Kelly Babineau, the attorney for Mabson, argued that he wasn’t the accomplice who joined Godines in entering Sanderson’s apartment the night of the shooting.
“I don’t believe there was sufficient evidence for him to be convicted,” Babineau said. “They certainly did not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Although I do respect the system and the efforts that the jury made, I disagree with the verdict.”
The panel began deliberations Thursday and returned with its verdict Monday afternoon.
Sanderson’s relatives said they were pleased with the outcome. None of them wanted to be quoted by their full names out of fear of reprisals. One of them said the jury was able “to see through a cloud of legalese that was almost impenetrable at times.”
Call The Bee’s Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.