An Air Force airman is scheduled to be sentenced for murdering a Mennonite woman and leaving her dead in a forest clearing. Mark Gooch, 22, was raised Mennonite as well, but prosecutors said he targeted New Mexico resident Sasha Krause, 27, because of his hatred for people of that Christian group. Court is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. MT / 3:30 p.m. ET in Coconino County, Arizona.
Prosecutors say Gooch kidnapped Krause from her community near the city of Farmington in January 2020. He took her all the way over to a clearing outside Flagstaff, Arizona. At some point, he bound her wrists, authorities said. He bashed her head with his rifle and shot her in the back of the head, prosecutor Ammon Barker told jurors in closing arguments.
Gooch tried and failed to cover up his tracks, telling investigators he was in Farmington because he wanted to join a church, but his story did not match up with the evidence, including cell phone data. He was not trying to join a church. He was doing surveillance. Location data placed him at both the kidnapping and murder sites, authorities said.
Gooch actually grew up in a Mennonite community, but he “rejected” life there and joined the military, his father James Gooch testified. He harbored a deep resentment shared by at least one brother. Virginia state trooper Jacob Gooch, who ended up resigning, told him he ticketed a Mennonite man, and wrote he coughed on the man to give him COVID.
Mark Gooch cheered him on: “Fuck yeah.”
He was relishing in the suffering of a man he did not even know, Barker said. That’s what he did with Krause, according to the prosecutor.
[Booking photo of Gooch via Coconino County; picture of Krause via San Juan County Sheriff’s Office]
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