FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Sasha Krause was a religious Mennonite lady, usually immersed in books, who simply quoted scripture and sometimes taught Sunday faculty earlier than her physique was present in a forest clearing in northern Arizona.
Airman 1st Class Mark Gooch, assigned to the 56th Tools Upkeep Squadron at Luke Air Drive Base in Phoenix, was raised in a Mennonite community in Wisconsin however rejected the religion earlier than becoming a member of the service.
There isn’t a indication the 2 knew one another previous to their alleged assembly early final yr, however Gooch was arrested in April 2020 and charged with kidnapping and killing Krauss.
Prosecutors will try to convince a jury that Gooch had a common disdain for Mennonites and drove greater than seven hours to Farmington, New Mexico, the place Krause lived, kidnapped her and fatally shot her.
Jury choice started Tuesday within the largely circumstantial case. Gooch, 22, faces as much as life in jail if he’s convicted of first-degree homicide and different prices.
Krause, 27, disappeared on Jan. 18, 2020, as she was gathering materials for Sunday faculty. Her physique was discovered greater than a month later exterior Flagstaff, Arizona, along with her wrists sure with duct tape.
Gooch’s legal professional, Bruce Griffen, has mentioned that any connection Gooch had with the Mennonite neighborhood or conversations he had with others in regards to the religion’s followers just isn’t proof of “homicidal sick will.”
Sheriff’s officers who looked for Krause and those that investigated her demise, together with cellphone information and ballistics consultants, and other people from Krause’s neighborhood are anticipated to testify within the trial in Coconino County Superior Court docket.
Jury choice continued Wednesday, considerably hampered by coronavirus protocols that restrict the quantity of people that will be within the courtroom on the similar time.
Authorities mentioned they tied Gooch to Krause’s disappearance and demise using cellphone records, Gooch’s monetary statements and receipts, and Luke surveillance video. A state crime lab report confirmed a bullet taken from Krause’s cranium was fired from a .22-caliber rifle Gooch owned.
Gooch’s cellphone was the one one speaking with the identical cell towers as Krause’s telephone earlier than hers dropped off west of Farmington, authorities mentioned. Prosecutors have mentioned they aren’t positive why he focused Krause.
Gooch instructed authorities he was within the space when Krause went lacking as a result of he had been testing Mennonite searches for the fellowship. He denied enjoying any half in her disappearance or demise, in keeping with sheriff’s data.
Griffen unsuccessfully sought to maintain an knowledgeable for the prosecution from testifying in regards to the cellphone information, which he known as “weak science.” He additionally sought to restrict mentions of textual content messages that Gooch had together with his brothers that referred to Mennonites.
Neither Griffen nor the prosecutor’s workplace responded to requests for remark forward of the trial.
Gooch by no means formally turned a member of the Mennonite church, he instructed investigators. He mentioned he joined the army to flee what he noticed as a troublesome, sheltered and restricted life, in keeping with sheriff’s data. He labored in tools upkeep at Luke, the place he was stationed in October 2019.
Krause was a part of a bunch of conservative Mennonites during which ladies put on head coverings and lengthy clothes or skirts. She moved to Farmington from Texas, the place she taught faculty.
On the one-year anniversary of her disappearance, the Mennonite neighborhood despatched remembrances to Krause’s mother and father. Krause’s college students mentioned she was a great instructor who learn to them and performed video games with them. Krause preached arduous work, even when it went unrecognized, others mentioned.
She spoke Spanish and French. The neighborhood remembered her deep, dancing brown eyes and her quiet mannerisms, saying her time in Farmington was quick however her influence long-lasting.
Paul Kaufman, common supervisor of Lamp and Mild Publishers the place Krause labored, mentioned feelings that slowly have been therapeutic have bubbled up with the beginning of the trial. The neighborhood desires to really feel secure and for whoever was liable for killing Krause to repent, he mentioned.
“We didn’t see who confirmed up on the church that night time and kidnapped Sasha,” he mentioned. “We didn’t see who dedicated that horrible act. We didn’t see that. However God noticed that.”