In two OCSD interviews, Garrick denied killing Jack Jessee, but Murray says his interest in Garrick is “very much open and active.” He explains his deal with Schrauben this way: “He’s a villain. You can’t sugarcoat the guy. But it’s not a perfect world.”

And Bercher’s taunts? “I’m not going to stoop to his level,” he says.

The bottom line for the prosecutor is whether evidence backed the hit man’s story. In his view, bank, phone, hotel and airline records found after the confession, plus an eyewitness, corroborate key portions of the assertion that after Jessee made a pre-murder $5,000 payment, Schrauben took turn-around Southwest Airlines flights to Phoenix, where Aehlert handed him three cash installments totaling $45,000.

Jim Rugg
Sandra Jessee's lawyer claims she paid $50,000 to dope smugglers and casinos—not a hit man
Christopher Victorio
Sandra Jessee's lawyer claims she paid $50,000 to dope smugglers and casinos—not a hit man

Bercher suggested an alternative theory: Cash flowing from Jessee’s bank account when Schrauben claims he received his installments actually paid for loads of marijuana, casino losses and under-the-table gifts to family members in an attempt to hide income from the IRS.

There was also this eyebrow-raising tidbit: After moving to Arizona, Jessee named Schrauben as one of the trustees to her estate.

“Jack Jesse was a real person,” Murray told jurors. “He had a life, and it was taken away for one of the vilest reasons imaginable: greed—pure unadulterated greed.”

Murray’s argument convinced all but one juror.

If he wins convictions at a future trial, two ironies will loom above all others in a case loaded with them. Police say Jack Jessee’s final words were a plea for his wife to rescue him. And, according to the autopsy, Sandra Jessee was on the verge of inheriting her husband’s money anyway. Dr. Anthony Juguilon, a pathologist, estimated that Jack had as few as two months to live if he hadn’t been murdered.

But Bercher won’t concede: “Sandra didn’t do it, and Mr. Murray knows it.”

« Previous Page