Caretaker Gets Life in Prison for Murdering, Embezzling Elderly Man

Gerald-Rabourn
SDPD

A woman convicted of killing an elderly man she was taking care of, then draining his bank accounts, was sentenced to life in prison in a San Diego courtroom Friday.

Denise Michelle Goodwin, 47, will spend the rest of her life in prison for the 2011 murder of 89-year-old Gerald Rabourn, despite prosecutors seeking the death penalty.

Rabourn, who trusted Goodwin with his money after she cared for his late wife, went missing in 2011 and his body was never found. The district attorney's office said Goodwin took everything he had, then murdered him to avoid being found out.

Although Rabourn's body was never found, she was convicted in October of first-degree murder and murder for financial gain.

Defense attorneys argued during the trial that enough evidence was present to prove Goodwin had made off with Rabourn's money, but not enough to say she killed him.

"She's a thief disguised as a churchgoer; she's a killer disguised as a caregiver," Deputy District Attorney Bill Mitchell told the judge before the sentencing.

Prosecutors said Goodwin targeted rich old men with no close family and described the case as especially shocking and compelling.

"Gerald Rabourn was sucked in and taken to the cleaners," Mitchell told jurors. "[Goodwin] had found her golden goose. He thought she was wonderful. He thought he was getting something for nothing. When it came to his money, he wanted to keep it."

Before the sentencing, the defense motioned to have Goodwin's charges reduced to second-degree murder, but the motion was denied.

Rabourn's son called Goodwin a "pariah on society." Rabourn's daughter said he was a gentle and kind man who should not have died in a violent way.

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