SACRAMENTO, CA - A Sacramento County Superior Court judge sentenced convicted killer Aaron Dunn to death Tuesday morning for a 2006 shooting spree in Elk Grove.
During the sentencing hearing, Judge Michael Sweet denied a defense attorney's request for a life sentence without parole due to Dunn's rough upbringing.
According to Sweet, Dunn knew what he was doing when he shot and killed two men outside of two Elk Grove restaurants on March 25, 2006.
"These were random acts of violence, perpetrated against complete strangers who became victims, literally, because they happened to be where they were, when they were," Sweet said. "The weight of this factor is simply overwhelming."
Dunn was convicted in April of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of former News10 photographer Jon Johnson, 46, and salesman Michael Daly, 45. Both men were leaving restaurants on Laguna Boulevard when Dunn opened fire at random.
Before Dunn was sentenced, Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Scott Triplett read a letter written by Dianne McGarry, Daly's sister.
"He had ambitions, hopes and dreams for himself and his beautiful family that will never be realized," McGarry said in her letter. "That day, one heart in our family stopped beating, but our entire family died. We will never be the same."
"It's good to know that it's over," said Jon Johnson's widow, Karen. "It took four years. I hated him. I wanted to see him dead, initially. I think that's the human reaction that we all have. Someone was murdered, your loved one was murdered, taken from you so senselessly, and so for many years I had a lot of hatred inside of me, but I am so happy to say that I don't feel that way today."
Johnson also confronted Dunn, telling him God had given her strength to forgive him.
"I'm a very spiritual woman and I know Satan worked through that man that night," Johnson said. "Jon is gone now and Aaron Dunn will have a lifetime to think about what he has done and how he hurt and how he affected and ripped so many lives apart. Aaron Dunn I have forgiven you for what you've done, I have forgiven you."
Outside the courtroom, Johnson said for the first time ever, Dunn acknowledged her.
"He showed no remorse throughout the entire trial, and to see him turn to me and nod his head and say, 'Thank you,' I felt like maybe I touched his heart, maybe there's still something there," said Johnson.
In May, a jury recommended the death penalty as opposed to life in prison without parole.
Dunn's lawyer admitted during the trial that Dunn killed the two victims, but claimed his client was delusional and under the influence of methamphetamine. Defense attorney Amy Rogers told jurors Dunn's life had spiraled out of control after the breakup of his marriage and the loss of his job.
Triplett told jurors Dunn showed no remorse for the killings as he pressed for a death sentence.
"The drug excuse to me was just a cop out," Tripplett said. "This guy had a plan, he was telling people his plan. 'Watch the news tonight', that's a pretty frightening statement if you really think about how cold and chilling that statement is."
by Sharon Ito, firstname.lastname@example.org
by Nick Monacelli, email@example.com