A former U.S. Air Force airman has been convicted in the kidnapping and brutal murder of Mennonite Sunday school teacher Sasha Krause, officials said, according to a published report.
On Wednesday, after deliberating for less than a full day, a jury in Arizona found Mark Gooch, 22, guilty of kidnapping and first-degree murder in the 2020 killing of 27-year-old Krause, People reported.
Gooch stood in a military stance and showed no emotion as the verdict was announced, According to the Associated Press,
William Ring, Coconino County Attorney for the Krause Family, thanked the jury and stated that his office would continue to serve the community. “seek swift justice,”The AP reported.
During the trial, Krause’s parents and others who shared in the conservative Christian faith, including the general manager of the Farmington publishing ministry where Krause worked, were in the courtroom, the news outlet reported.
Krause, a member of Farmington’s Mennonite community, was reported missing Jan. 18. Krause had set out to run an errand in front of her class at Farmington Mennonite Church but she never returned. azfamily.com reported.
Nearly five weeks after she disappeared, Krause’s body was found hundreds of miles away in a forest clearing near Flagstaff, Arizona. The grim discovery was made by a camper who was collecting firewood. Krause was found face-down and covered in pine needles. Her wrists were bound with a gunshot to the head, the AP reported.
Coconino County detectives used cellphone records and surveillance video that indicated that Gooch had traveled from Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, where he had been stationed to Farmington, People reported.
The news outlet reported that Gooch was taken into custody in April 2020.
Gooch, similar to Krause, was raised in a Mennonite community in Wisconsin. A report stated that Gooch joined U.S. Airforce in spite of his rejection of the religion.
People reported that Gooch and his brother had sent text messages to each other during the trial, which led to resentment toward the Mennonite community.
Before the verdict was read, jurors heard 10 days of testimony from those who knew the 27-year-old and those involved in the investigation, including ballistic experts who had varying views on the type of rifle used in the shooting.
Jim Gooch stated that his son, who was not a convert, left the Mennonite faith to join the military.
Among the jury, Gooch’s attorney, Bruce Griffen, tried to raise reasonable doubt declaring a lack of forensic evidence and testimony about another car being seen the Mennonite community the day Krause disappeared, azfamily.com reported.
People reported that there was no evidence Krause knew Gooch.
Authorities also found inconsistencies in Gooch’s story, officials said.
Krause was a teacher for six years at Grandview Gospel Fellowship in Grandview, Texas, before moving to Farmington less than two years ago to work in the publishing ministry, azfamily.com reported.
Krause’s father, Bob Krause, told the AP on Wednesday that his daughter “was a person of deep faith who found joy in working with children and learning.”The news outlet reported that she also stated her love for language and words.
She wrote the last verse of a poem titled “The Last Stanza.” “I do not walk alone”He stated, “was perhaps was about passing in old age,” he said, but “it is amazingly apt to what seems to have happened to her,” the Associated Press reported.
A report claims that Gooch was convicted not only of murder but also of misdemeanor theft charges.
The news outlet reported that Gooch will be sentenced on Nov. 24 and could spend life in prison.