An Air Force mechanic convicted of kidnapping and killing a Mennonite woman over the alleged resentment of her faith will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Mark Gooch, an airman formerly stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, was convicted in October of kidnapping and fatally shooting Sasha Krause, 27, who disappeared from her Mennonite community near Farmington in northwestern New Mexico in January 2020.
Krause was found dead more than a month later with a gunshot wound to her head and her hands bound with duct tape. She was discovered at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument outside Flagstaff, Arizona – nearly 300 miles away.
Investigators used cellphone data to link Gooch, 22, to Krause’s slaying, KRQE reported. Financial records and surveillance video also tied him to the killing while he was stationed at the base 15 miles west of Phoenix.
Prosecutors said the airman didn’t know the woman who worked in the publishing industry but kidnapped and killed her out of resentment for the Mennonite church he previously rejected, the station reported.
Gooch, who grew up in a Mennonite community in Wisconsin, never joined the church, but prosecutors said text messages to his brother showed his scorn toward for the faith. He addressed a judge Wednesday but never admitted guilt, KRQE reported.
“Firstly, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the deceased family and I would also like to express my thankfulness for the love and support of my own family in this difficult situation,” Gooch told Coconino County Superior Court Judge Cathleen Brown Nichols.
An attorney for Gooch sought a life sentence with the possibility of parole, but Brown Nichols was unmoved — saying the slaying was the “most senseless case” she ever presided over, KPNX reported.
“It just makes no sense why one human being would do this to another human being,” the judge said Wednesday.
Gooch — who worked as a mechanic in the Air Force and had no criminal history — previously acknowledged taking a trip in search of Mennonites but denied kidnapping or killing Krause. His attorney indicated they would appeal Wednesday’s sentence, according to KRQE.
Krause’s family, meanwhile, is still seeking answers as to why the Mennonite woman who disappeared while prepping to teach Sunday school was killed, according to a victim impact statement written by Krause’s parents.
“So why did this happen? Why was she kidnapped and murdered?” read the statement obtained by KPNX. “God, in His goodness, allowed the devil’s plan to proceed. So He in His goodness will not allow her efforts to be wasted, God will use her death for His glory.”
Gooch’s father, Jim, had asked Brown Nichols to grant leniency to his son, hoping that he could one day “return to society” and be a productive person, KRQE reported.
With Post wires
Source: New York Post