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3:58 p.m., Feb. 19
Joseph Robertson Verkade has been declared guilty of murder, in the shooting death of a man in his Carlsbad garage more than two years ago.
Homeowner Michael Sahagun, 63, was declared dead of a shotgun wound to the chest in the early morning hours of April 1, 2011.
A jury of 8 men and 4 women was seated in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse on May 22, and after a three-week trial, their unanimous verdicts were declared on June 13, 2013.
Verkade was accused of being one in a group of persons who went to the victim’s home that night planning to rob Sahagun of drugs and money. One person in the group demanded that Sahagun empty his pockets and put up his hands, according to testimony, but the stubborn 63-year-old man refused, instead saying, “Well, then shoot me.” Verkade used a sawed-off shotgun to kill the homeowner with a single blast, the jury determined.
Neighbors of the home on Valley Street phoned 911 a little before 1 a.m., after they heard the blast and then a woman screaming. Mrs. Frances Munoz Sahagun, who was married to Michael Sahagun for eleven years, testified that she found her husband on the floor of their garage. Mrs. Sahagun described her husband as a “landscape contractor” who was gone a lot.
Joseph Robertson Verkade, 36, who has his nickname “Joker” tattooed across his belly, was found guilty of murder and personally using a sawed-off-shotgun, plus the special circumstances of murder during robbery and burglary. He could face life-in-prison without possibility of parole.
Verkade was out on probation at the time of the shooting, early 2011, for a 2010 drug conviction in San Diego County. He has other prior convictions out of El Dorado and Sacramento and Los Angeles counties, starting in 1997; those were drug crimes and one grand theft described as “taking from the person of another.”
Verkade had been held in lieu of $10 million bail for more than two years awaiting trial. Sentencing is now set for August 23, 2013, before the same judge who heard the trial, Honorable Robert Kearney, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse.