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A former Arizona Air Force airman who apparently resented the Mennonites has been sentenced to life for abducting and killing a Mennonite Sunday school teacher.
Mark Gooch, 22, was sentenced to life for murder on Wednesday for the 2020 killing of Sasha Krause, 27, 12NEWS reports. He received an extra five years for kidnapping; the sentences will run consecutively.
Coconino County Superior Court Judge Cathleen Brown Nichols, who presided over the judgment, called the killing "the most senseless case" that she's seen.
“It just makes no sense why one human being would do this to another human being," Nichols said in court on Wednesday, 12NEWS reports.
Krause vanished mysteriously from her secluded community in New Mexico in January of 2020 not far from the Farmington Mennonite Church where she was preparing to teach Sunday school. More than a month later, her remains were found hundreds of miles away near the Sunset Crater National Monument outside Flagstaff, Arizona. The Sunday school teacher had been shot in the head with a .22 caliber firearm and her hands had been bound with duct tape.
Gooch was stationed at Arizona's Luke Air Force Base at the time of the killing, where he worked as a mechanic, the Air Force Times reported last year. He was arrested in April of 2020 and in October, jurors found him guilty after deliberating for less than a day.
Gooch, who was 20 when he killed Krause, had no personal connection to her. However, they were both raised in Mennonite communities, albeit states apart. Gooch rejected the faith in his own Wisconsin community while growing up, according to 12NEWS. During the trial, texts between Gooch and his brother revealed that he claimed he was surveilling Mennonites, the Arizona Daily Sun reported last year. That brother, Samuel Gooch, also told investigators that his sibling held a grudge against the religion.
In a letter written by Krause’s mother Laura Krause, she stated, "Sasha was more than our daughter, she was our friend.”
Krause was remembered as a deeply spiritual woman who loved her family as well as reading and writing. In fact, a poem she wrote when she was 19 entitled "If I Die Young” was read in court on Wednesday. In part of the poem, she wrote, “If I die young think not the hours wasted I spent preparing for some future day my God is not unrighteous to forget it.”
Gooch apologized to the Krause family during the sentencing.
"Firstly, I’d like to extend my sincere condolences to the deceased’s family and also like to express my thankfulness for the love and support in my own family in this difficult time," he said.
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