[UPDATED with Sentencing] Gary A. Shawkey's Trail of Lies Ends in Santa Ana, Where He's Found Guilty of Murdering Partner

UPDATED, JULY 22, 12:40 P.M.: Today in a Santa Ana courtroom, Gary A. Shawkey received his sentence for murdering a 71-year-old business partner in 2008: life in prison without the chance for parole. The victim was last seen on a boat with Shawkey, leaving Dana Point Harbor. It is believed Shawkey killed Robert Vendrick and disposed of his body by dumping it into the ocean. More details of the troubling case are in the original post below.

ORIGINAL POST, JUNE 22, 10:46 A.M.: Like O.J. looking for Nicole's killer, Virginia-based motivational speaker Gary A. Shawkey criss-crossed the country spinning tales of searching for his business partner last seen in Orange County in February 2008.

His trek finally ended Tuesday in a Santa Ana courtroom, where a jury found Shawkey guilty of murdering his 71-year-old partner and dumping the Phoenix retiree's body somewhere in the sea off Dana Point.

Speaking of wild tales, 47-year-old Shawkey used them to hook Robert Vendrick into schemes between January 2004 and February 2008. Promising high rates on returns that never materialized, Shawkey stole about $1.2 million from the retired software executive.

Indeed, by the waning days of their relationship, Vendrick was talking of pulling out all his investments when Mechanicsville, VA's Shawkey engineered one more scam involving the development of top-secret computer software for the federal government. After wiring Shawkey $100,000, Vendrick flew into Orange County to board a 23-foot sailboat his partner purchased for a trip from Dana Point Harbor to San Clemente Island, where federal agents would finalize the deal.

It was another lie, but the last one Vendrick would hear as he was never seen or heard from again.

Shawkey was jailed in Virginia on an unrelated theft charge in February 2009 when authorities there discovered murder charges had been filed against him in Orange County. He was extradited here the following month and has been behind bars ever since. And he may remain locked up the rest of his life after his sentencing scheduled for July 22 in Santa Ana.

The jury found Shawkey guilty of one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain, one felony count of grand theft, and a sentencing enhancement for stealing over $200,000.


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