NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The airman convicted of killing a Mennonite woman was sentenced on Wednesday to life in prison after emotional statements from his family and the victim’s, both members of the Mennonite community.

“Why was she kidnapped and murdered? I will never understand that in this life. But God in his ultimate wisdom and goodness allowed the devil’s evil plan to proceed. So he in his goodness will not allow her efforts to be wasted,” read by a victim’s advocate in a statement from the Krause family.

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“And so as the sentencing is pronounced we just pray for your leniency on it that Mark may return to society and be a contributing member to society,” said Mark Gooch’s father, Jim.

Mark Gooch, an airman at Luke Air Force Base at the time, took 27-year-old Sasha Krause from her community near Farmington in January 2020 then beat and shot her and left her body in a forest near Flagstaff. Investigators used cell phone data to tie Gooch to the crime. He didn’t know Krause. Prosecutors believe Gooch killed her out of resentment for the church he had rejected. On Wednesday, Gooch spoke briefly, never admitting guilt.

“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 said.

His attorney argued for a life sentence with the possibility of parole also stated they will appeal. The judge opted for the life sentence without parole, calling the crime callus and senseless saying to this day, no one understands how an airman, with no criminal history, could carry out such a crime.