Crime - Sacto 911

Crime Q&A: Was anyone charged with 1990s North Highlands slaying?

Q: Who was ever charged with the murder of Janet Green? I think it was in the 1990s in North Highlands.

Annie, Bend, Ore.

A: A search of The Sacramento Bee’s archives turned up no accounts of murders involving a Janet Green.

You may be thinking of the case of Novella Mae Green, also known as Marilyn Green, who was shot and killed in a North Highlands apartment complex parking lot March 13, 1990.

The Bee reported that 22-year-old Jerry Eugene Best was convicted of second-degree murder in the case and sentenced to 18 years to life in prison.

In initial statements to detectives investigating the slaying of Green, 29, at the Galbraith Drive apartment complex, Best denied any knowledge of the shooting. But after agreeing to a lie-detector test, Best broke down and admitted responsibility, according to stories in The Bee.

Best told investigators he had been trying to sell the gun to raise money for his rent when Green grabbed for the weapon and it accidentally discharged, hitting her in the abdomen. Best said he intentionally fired a second, fatal shot to the woman’s temple because he feared Green would identify him and he would be arrested for the shooting,

The judge, however, ruled the confession inadmissible, saying investigators had obtained the statement illegally. The version the jury heard, from witnesses to whom Best had talked after the killing, was that both shots had been fired accidentally.

The prosecutor was on the verge of offering a manslaughter plea bargain to Best when investigators found an 18-year-old friend who had heard from Best, shortly after the killing, pretty much the same story Best had told detectives – that he shot Green in the head to keep her from testifying against him after she had been accidentally wounded in the side.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy