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Airman Mark Gooch sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and murdering Mennonite Sunday school teacher Sasha Krause

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A US Air Force airman has been sentenced to life in jail for kidnapping a Mennonite girl from northwestern New Mexico, earlier than fatally capturing her and dumping her physique in a forest clearing a whole bunch of miles away.

Mark Gooch, 22, was convicted of kidnapping and first-degree homicide in October.

His sentence was on Wednesday, almost two years to the date that Sasha Krause, then 27, went lacking whereas getting ready to show a Sunday college class.

There isn’t a indication that Ms Krause knew her killer. They’re believed to have been strangers and their solely connection was they have been each introduced up within the Mennonite religion.

Gooch expressed no emotion when Coconino County Superior Courtroom Decide Cathleen Brown Nichols handed down the sentence.

Ms Brown Nichols mentioned the case was one of the vital mindless she’s dealt with, leaving her perplexed as to what Gooch’s motive was on condition that it was by no means revealed within the trial.

“Even when he knew the individual, it wouldn’t be justified,” Ms Brown Nichols mentioned. “However the truth that he didn’t even know her was so very mindless and mindboggling.”

Authorities have been in a position to make use of cellphone and monetary information, and surveillance video to tie Gooch to the crimes.

It was proven that he left Luke Air Power Base the place he was stationed in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, drove north previous Flagstaff and thru the Navajo Nation to Farmington, New Mexico, the place Ms Krause labored within the publishing ministry.

Sasha Krause, pictured right here studying to kids, was murdered in early 2020

(AP)

Gooch acknowledged he took the journey in a seek for the fellowship of Mennonites however he denied kidnapping and killing Ms Krause on 18 January 2020.

When it was realised Ms Krause was lacking, the neighborhood’s frantic search turned up nothing.

Authorities found Gooch left Ms Krause’s physique in a distant space on the outskirts of Flagstaff, Arizona, that had no cellphone service, underneath the duvet of evening.

The information additionally confirmed he tried to cowl his tracks, asking a buddy to take care of a .22-caliber gun, getting his automobile totally cleaned, and deleting the placement historical past on his telephone.

A camper discovered Ms Krause’s physique greater than a month later and alerted authorities.

She was discovered mendacity face down along with her arms sure with duct tape, and had been shot within the head.

Prosecutors argued Gooch was pushed by a disdain for the Mennonite religion that he grew up with in Wisconsin, exhibited by textual content message exchanges together with his brothers.

He had by no means joined the church, as an alternative enlisting within the Air Power the place he labored as a mechanic.

“Now, as an alternative of honorably serving his nation, he’s going to serve a humiliating life time period in jail,” Coconino County Legal professional William Ring mentioned in an announcement after the sentencing listening to.

“The sufferer’s religion was vital to her, in order guided by Proverbs, all of us do proper by caring that justice will get carried out for the susceptible ones.”

Gooch’s mother and father, Jim and Anita, declined to remark after the listening to aside from to say they’re praying for Ms Krause’s household whom they communicated with through the trial.

Defence lawyer, Bruce Griffen, mentioned he was disillusioned Gooch gained’t have an opportunity at life exterior of jail a long time from now. He, too, struggled to grasp any motive.

Mark Gooch, the Air Power airman sentenced to life in jail for the homicide of Sasha Krause

(AP)

Gooch’s household and buddies described him in courtroom paperwork as hardworking, respectful, inquisitive and type. He had no prison historical past.

“I name it the unanswered query,” Mr Griffen mentioned. “Nonetheless suppose there’s a disconnect. I don’t perceive it. I don’t suppose anyone understands it at this level.”

Gooch briefly spoke through the listening to for the primary time, expressing condolences to Ms Krause’s household and thanking his household for his or her assist. His eyes scanned the courtroom gallery as sheriff’s deputies led him out.

Ms Krause’s mother and father, who reside in Texas, didn’t attend the listening to in individual however requested a consultant to learn a letter to Decide Brown Nichols.

In it, they mentioned Sasha Krause was a superb sister, conscientious, desirous to learn at a younger age and decided. She had a way of confidence that her sisters generally took as “bossy,” they wrote.

They shared photos of Ms Krause studying to kids, along with her household, and on a snowy outing in Colorado so the decide might see her as greater than a sufferer, Robert Krause instructed The Related Press.

Her mother and father mentioned they are going to by no means perceive why their daughter was kidnapped and murdered however mentioned it needed to be a part of God’s plan.

“God will use her demise for His glory, and I’m satisfied He has everlasting functions for Sasha that we will solely guess about, from right here,” they wrote.

The Farmington Mennonite Church Group addressed a letter on to Gooch forward of the sentencing listening to, though it’s unclear if he noticed it.

They described Gooch’s crimes as heinous however wrote that they imagine he has some regret and urged him to repent absolutely.

With reporting from The Related Press

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