Man convicted of murder in Carlsbad robbery gone bad

VISTA (CNS) – A man who gunned down a Carlsbad resident in the victim's garage during a robbery gone bad was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder and other charges.

Joseph Verkade, 36, faces life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 26 years to life, when he is sentenced Aug. 23 by Judge Robert Kearney.

A jury found Verkade guilty of attempted robbery and burglary and found true special circumstance allegations that the shotgun-murder of 63-year-old Michael Sahagun was committed during an attempted robbery and burglary.

Sahagun was found dead in the detached garage of his North County home about 1:30 a.m. on April 1, 2011.

Witnesses testified that the plan was to rob the victim of drugs and cash.

Co-defendant Grant Hunter, 25, who prosecutors said was present during the attempted robbery, was also convicted of first-degree murder and was previously sentenced to life without parole plus six years.

Other defendants in the case included 22-year-old Mercedes Yorba, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Two others, Michael Gault, 32, and Heather Strauch, 34, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and are awaiting sentencing.

Gary Gomez, 28, and Marilyn March pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact and were sentenced to three years in prison.

Jason Breer, 42, is scheduled to stand trial for murder on July 9.

Categories: KUSI