An Arizona jury on Wednesday sentenced a man to death for killing nine people during a spree that terrorized the Phoenix area, rejecting the man's pleas for mercy and denials of guilt and agreeing with prosecutors that the killings were especially cruel.
Jurors reached the verdict about a month after they found 47-year-old Mark Goudeau (goo-DOH') guilty of the nine murders and 58 other charges, including kidnapping and rape. They sentenced him to death on each of the nine murder counts.
"He's a demon from hell," said Maria Nunez, whose 37-year-old daughter Sofia Nunez was killed by Goudeau on April 10, 2006. Sofia Nunez's 8-year-old son is the one who found her body, partially naked in a bathtub with a gunshot to the head.
"It's a relief that it's over," Maria Nunez said, but added that it didn't bring her much comfort. "It's not going to bring Sofia back."
Goudeau was accused of attacking his victims as they went about daily activities, such as leaving work or washing their car. He left most of them with their pants unzipped and partially pulled down.
Police named the series of killings and other crimes after Baseline Road in south Phoenix where many of the earliest attacks happened. Goudeau lived only minutes away from many of the attack sites.
Goudeau didn't want to be in the courtroom when verdicts were read, but Judge Warren Granville forced him to stay. He sat quietly and didn't flinch throughout the proceeding.
His attorney, Randall Craig, declined to comment after the sentencing, citing an appeal he plans to file.
Goudeau had been serving a 438-year sentence in a 2005 sexual assault case tied to the Baseline Killer attacks, but only recently became eligible for the death penalty after his murder convictions.
"I believe in an eye for an eye," sobbed Teresa Washington, the sister of another of Goudeau's victims, 39-year-old Tina Washington. "He's not going to die the way my sister died."
Prosecutors had argued that Goudeau was a "ravenous wolf" driven by a hunger to rape women and kill those who didn't cooperate with his demands, and that the murders were especially cruel because the victims suffered unimaginable terror and anguish in the moments leading up to their deaths.
"He enjoyed the power and dominion he exercised over these victims," prosecutor Patricia Stevens told jurors. "He enjoyed the threats of force, the threats of death."
Stevens said that each of the eight female victims was forced to agonize over whether they would be raped or killed in the moments before they were shot, and that two of them were forced to watch Goudeau kill another person before he turned the gun on them, prolonging and intensifying their own terror.
The sole male victim was killed before prosecutors say Goudeau attacked his female co-worker.
Two weeks ago, Goudeau forced his lawyers to stop calling on witnesses in support of a life sentence after a psychologist implied that Goudeau struggled with impotence and insecurity. He opted instead to address jurors himself against his lawyers' wishes, telling them to follow their hearts when they decide whether to sentence him to death or life in prison.
"I am no monster," he told them. "I could look in each and every one of your eyes today and tell you Mark Goudeau is no wolf in sheep's clothing ... I do pray that one day you guys learn the truth about this case."
After Wednesday's verdict, jurors sat down with reporters and explained the emotional toll the case had on them, how seriously they took their responsibility and how much they felt that the victims and their family members deserved justice. They also said that hearing from Goudeau himself was the first time they ever saw him express emotion during the nearly six-month trial.
"He had emotion, he had a hard time saying what he was saying," said one juror who didn't want her name used. "I don't know if it was an act but in my heart I didn't think it was an act ... It just made me think that he actually had feelings, which I didn't think he had."
Another juror said Goudeau's remarks were almost surreal.
"Having him get up and speak to us knowing that in a matter of days we would be deciding death or life for him, that was huge for me," said the juror, who also didn't want her name used. "It was uncomfortable having him talk and just knowing that I would be faced with that decision soon."
Asked if she could say one thing to Goudeau, the juror said it would be: "How could you?"
Stevens pointed out to jurors that Goudeau offered no apologies to any of the victims in the case or their families.
"He and he alone decided how each of these nine would leave this world, what their last few minutes on this Earth would be like," she said. "He put them through unspeakable terror, and he ended each and every one of these lives by putting a gun to their head and executing them, and now he asks you for mercy. He asks you for mercy that he never himself showed."
Defense attorneys argued that factors stemming from Goudeau's childhood set him up to become the man he is today and that he should be spared from the death penalty.
Mark Cunningham, a clinical and forensic psychologist, testified that Goudeau's parents abused alcohol, his mother died when he was 10, and his father was in and out of his life, forcing Goudeau's older siblings to assume most of his parenting. He also said that Goudeau likely suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome, had a family history of drug and alcohol abuse, and suffered from a lack of stability in his home life.
Defense attorney Rod Carter told jurors that sentencing Goudeau to life in prison would be no slap on the wrist.
"That's where he'll be the rest of his life," Carter said. "A death sentence is as permanent as you can get."
Jurors also heard emotional statements from the family of each murder victim during the trial, causing many of the jurors to weep openly in court.
"I kept thinking they made a mistake. Not my baby," sobbed Rebecca Thompson, whose daughter was the first murder victim.
Nineteen-year-old Georgia Thompson's body was found in a Tempe parking lot on Sept. 9, 2005, a bullet to her head, an arm across her eyes and keys still in her hand. Like most of the other victims, her pants had been unzipped. As her mother spoke in court, prosecutors showed photos of the beautiful freckle-faced girl with thick brown hair and sparkling blue eyes.
Thompson had only been living in Tempe for a couple months after leaving her hometown of Post Falls, Idaho, to become a lawyer in Arizona.
"I didn't want her out of my sight and now I have to wait an eternity to see her again," Rebecca Thompson said in court.
In 2007, Goudeau was sentenced to 438 years in prison for a 2005 rape of a woman while he held a gun to her pregnant sister's belly.
He also had been imprisoned for 13 years after being convicted of beating a woman's head against a barbell.
Goudeau was the last of three suspects to go on trial for a rash of killings and attacks that terrorized the Phoenix area for more than a year.
Dale Hausner and Samuel Dieteman were arrested in the so-called Serial Shooter case in August 2006. Hausner was convicted in March 2009 of killing six people and attacking 19 others in dozens of random nighttime shootings and was given six death sentences. Dieteman testified against Hausner and was sentenced to life in prison.
The two serial killer cases had Phoenix-area residents on edge at the height of both sprees in the summer of 2006. Women felt particularly vulnerable because the Baseline Killer targeted women, while the Serial Shooter case made most everyone nervous because the attacks happened at random and targeted pedestrians and bicyclists at night.