Crime - Sacto 911

Hoarder gets life sentence for murder of Sacramento animal control officer

Joseph Corey, right, with attorney Anthony Kimbirk, was sentenced Friday to life in prison for the 2012 murder of animal control officer Roy Marcum.
Joseph Corey, right, with attorney Anthony Kimbirk, was sentenced Friday to life in prison for the 2012 murder of animal control officer Roy Marcum.

The woman in the wheelchair closed her eyes while the DA read the letter she wrote on the day of reckoning for the man who murdered her son.

Charlotte Marcum-Rush’s words bled grief and pain over the loss of her slain son, Roy Marcum, and they directed anger toward Joseph Francis Corey, the hoarder who killed him.

“I sure hope you do not have peace of mind for the rest of your life,” Marcum-Rush wrote, in the statement read in court Friday by Deputy District Attorney William Satchell. “You are a wretched, poor and useless human being, and now you will be called a number, just another statistic, in the system of large quantities called prison inmates.”

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Greta Curtis Fall sentenced Corey to life in prison with no chance of parole plus another 25-to-life for the Nov. 28, 2012, shooting death of Roy Marcum, an animal control officer, on the front porch of the defendant’s home in Galt.

Corey, 68, was being evicted for not paying his mortgage for three years. Corey lived amid garbage stacked several feet high in every room of his place on First Street. He also kept eight dogs and two cats in feces-filled cages that were strewn through the house the day Marcum, 45, arrived to take custody of the animals.

“I understand you felt like you lost everything,” Marcum’s stepdaughter, Nicole Gray, told Corey in her statement to the court. “But Roy Marcum was the only one that was there to help you. If you would have just opened your door, you would have met a man who would have done everything in his power to help you and your animals.”

Instead, the evidence showed, Corey perched himself on an interior stairway leading down to his front door. He shouldered a high-powered, .35 Whelen hunting rifle used to shoot big game. He peered through a window at the top of the door, and when Marcum walked up, Corey fired a round through the right side of the animal control officer’s chest that exploded out his back.

After the killing, Charlotte Marcum-Rush paid a visit to Corey in the downtown jail to ask him why he killed her son. He told her, “I wanted to kill an officer.”

For Corey’s shooting of an officer in the performance of his duties, prosecutors attached a special-circumstance allegation, found true by his jury. It eliminated any chance he’ll ever get parole. Jurors also sustained a second special circumstance that Corey was lying in wait when he shot Marcum to death.

The judge called the murder “a senseless ambush of a fine man trying to do a job.”

“Roy was just there to help,” Fall said. She called Marcum “an absolute true victim in the purest sense of the word.”

About 20 animal control officers filled the courtroom to watch the sentencing of the man who murdered one of their own.

“Roy was an all-around great guy,” said his boss, Sacramento County animal control Director Dave Dickinson. “He was looked up to by many and a friend to all. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body.”

Had Marcum been allowed to do his job, “he would have removed the animals from the situation where they weren’t getting food and care,” Dickinson said. “They would have been brought to a shelter where they would have been attended to and gotten care if they needed it and food and shelter on a daily basis.”

Corey’s dogs and cats were in fact restored to good health and placed in new homes.

“All the animals that were removed from the house were given a new chance at life,” Dickinson said. “The only one that didn’t get that ability was Roy.”

Corey’s expression never changed during his sentencing hearing. He made no statement to the court and mostly looked straight ahead. He shared only a minimum of words with the new lawyer he brought in to represent him for the sentencing, Anthony Kimbirk, a San Bernardino County assistant public defender.

He didn’t visibly respond when Gray talked about the phone call she got three months after Marcum’s death from her son’s elementary school, “stating that my son told his teacher he wanted to kill himself so he could be with his grandpa.”

And if Corey was moved at all by the words of the woman in the wheelchair, he kept it to himself.

Charlotte Marcum-Rush told the story of a boy who grew up in North Highlands and Citrus Heights, graduated from Del Campo High School and joined the Air Force.

“As a child, Roy had a soft heart, saving animals that were in need,” Marcum-Rush’s words read, as she sat with her eyes closed, her thin brown hair tied into a ponytail with a turquoise strand that matched her shirt.

She told the court Roy was the second son she had lost. Michael Marcum, who was 40, died in a traffic accident five years before Roy’s death.

“My dreams are sometimes both good and bad, and I am willing to take them both because without them, I will never see my children again,” Marcum-Rush wrote. “I dream of the times I shared with them, and at times, I wake up and cannot fall back to sleep because I see them placing my sons, Michael and Roy, into their graves.”

She said her wish for Corey is that “you could die the way my son died.”

Call The Bee’s Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee