Victim's Brother Faces Alleged Killer

Michael Sahagun was found dead April 1

By Michael Gehlken
|  Thursday, Apr 14, 2011  |  Updated 5:38 PM PDT
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Victim's Brother Faces Alleged Killer

NBC San Diego

Gerardo Sahagun, brother of the victim, spoke on behalf of the family.

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Three of six suspects tied to the shooting death of a Carlsbad man pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Thursday afternoon in Vista.

Joseph Verkade, 34, Michael Gault, 30, and Heather Strauch, 32, were arrested Monday after Michael Sahagun, 63, was found dead April 1 inside a detached garage at 3556 Valley St.

They are each accused of murder, attempted robbery and second-degree burglary.

Additionally, Verkarde is suspected of fatally firing a shotgun to Sahagun’s chest and, with two special circumstances, could face the death penalty or life without parole if convicted.

Gault and Strauch are charged with vicariously firing the deadly weapon and could serve up to 26 years to life in prison.

Gerardo Sahagun, brother of the victim, spoke on behalf of the family and requested the judge deny the suspects the option to post bail.

“These defendants, ... who have a criminal history of drug use and probation violations, are charged of committing these heinous acts of violence against my brother,” he said. “These defendants are clearly a threat to the safety and security of the public if released.”

Verkade is being held on $10 million bail. Gault and Strauch were ordered held on $5 million bail.

Prosecutor Matthew Greco said the alleged murder was pre-planned.

Grant Hunter, 23, and Mercedes Yorba, 19, were arraigned last week under charges of murder, residential robbery and burglary. Gary Gomez, 29, is an alleged accessory.

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