The evil, pot-smoking Placentia granny who hired her son and his Orange County Target store co-worker to ambush murder her ill husband and believed she'd gotten away with it for years learned today that sometimes justice is slow but determined.
It took 4,971 days to get here, but Superior Court Judge James Stotler sentenced Sandra Maria Jessee, 61, to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus an additional 25 years for the 1998 special circumstances murder of Jack Jessee.
Perhaps because she'd escaped justice and gotten to live comfortably on her dead husband's assets for more than half a decade before her arrest, Jessee--who was wearing a super, jumbo-sized blue jumpsuit--entered Stotler's Santa Ana courtroom with an inappropriate smirk on her face and cockiness in her step.
Derek Bercher, Jessee's relentless public defender, pushed for a new trial or, at least, a continuance by claiming his client's conviction wasn't righteous because prosecutor Michael F. Murray solicited false, incriminating testimony from two co-conspirators in exchange for plea bargains.
Murray, probably one of the best prosecutors in California, didn't have to argue much given that Bercher's move was nothing more than a last ditch grasp to prolong his disgusting client's inevitable, one-way bus ride to a California prison hell hole.
Stotler rightly sided with Murray, who--along with Orange County Sheriff's Department deputies Brian Sutton and Tom Dove (who has retired) as well as Placentia PD-turned-Anaheim PD homicide investigator Daron Wyatt--deserve huge gold medals for going above and beyond the call of duty to capture Jessee.
But the law enforcement heroics in the case (see my previous articles for details) wouldn't have happened without one person: David Jessee, the victim's brother. For years, he pressed investigators not to drop the cold case. His unwavering determination to solve the case inspired the OCSD homicide unit, deputies told me.
At today's hearing, David thanked Murray and the OCSD, and told Stotler, "[Sandra] took away my best friend, my best buddy."
Chere Williams, one of the victim's daughters, called her ex-step mother's murderous acts "sheer evilness and greed."
"At one point, I wanted you to get the death penalty," she said to Sandra. "But I think it's better that you sit and rot in jail where you can think about what you've done."
Cheryl Deanda, the victim's other daughter, told the judge that she'd had "many sleepless nights for 13 years" and encouraged him to dole out the maximum punishment.
(I've spent dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens of hours with Chere and Cheryl in the courthouse, know how much they loved their dad, was impressed by their strength and am glad they can finally, genuinely sigh in relief that justice arrived.)
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Stotler announced punishment, told the killer she has 60 days to file an appeal, scheduled a restitution hearing for May and ordered deputies to take her back to her jail cell.
By the way: How stupid is this killer? According to the autopsy report, her already ill husband would have been dead from natural causes within six weeks if she hadn't killed him. If she had waited, she would have legally taken all of his money and not officially ended up a scumbag.