Opening statements begin in Mark Gooch trial

Crime

FARMINGTON, N.M. (KRQE) – We’re hearing for the first time what investigators believe happened the night 27-year-old Sasha Krause was kidnapped and killed. The Mennonite woman was kidnapped and murdered near Farmington in 2020. Mark Gooch, a U.S. airman, is accused of the crime.


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During opening statements, prosecutors discussed how investigators linked Gooch to her disappearance. Prosecutors say Gooch’s cell phone put him in Farmington on January 18, last year, the night Krause disappeared.

“The other thing the record will show is the time the defendant was in these locations,” said Prosecuting Attorney Ammon Barker. “You’ll hear that the defendant was in New Mexico up until Sasha’s disappearance,” Barker said. “We’ll hear he was in Sunset Crater National Monument area after midnight on January 19th, the same area where Sasha’s body was later found,” Barker explained to the jury.

Prosecutors said Gooch grew up in a Mennonite church in Wisconsin but had since left the community and joined the Air Force, saying he resented them. Investigators say a week before the kidnapping Gooch drove from Phoenix and conducted surveillance on the Mennonite community in Farmington.

The night of her disappearance, prosecutors say Krause had gone to the church to pick up books she’d be using in her Sunday school lesson but she never returned home. Prosecutors say that’s because Gooch kidnapped her and drove her seven hours to the Sunset Crater National Park outside of Flagstaff, where he shot her in the back of her head and dumped her body.

A month later Krause’s body was found by a camper. She was face down, her hands bound by duct tape. Meanwhile, Gooch’s attorney argued they can’t prove he kidnapped Krause because nobody in the Mennonite community saw him there.

“At the scene of the church area where the disappearance occurred, there’s not a sign that Mark Gooch was ever there,” said Gooch’s Defense Attorney, Bruce Griffen. “There’s no tire tracks, no one saw his car, there’s not a fingerprint on the door, there’s not a hair or fiber on found,” Griffen said.

Griffen says Gooch complied with investigators openly answering questions, describing him as polite to a fault. They say Gooch’s cell phone puts him in the community because he was there which Gooch never denied. They say he was looking for a Mennonite community because he missed the fellowship he grew up with.

Gooch is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, kidnapping and theft because he was found with her underwear and head covering. Gooch faces up to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.

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