Defense argues against death penalty in Baseline Killer case

PHOENIX - Attorneys for the man convicted of being the Phoenix area's Baseline Killer began arguing Monday that he deserves a sentence of life in prison instead of the death penalty, trying to prove to jurors that he would be unlikely to harm anyone behind bars.

Those same jurors convicted Mark Goudeau, 47, of nine counts of murder and 58 other charges connected to the Baseline Killer case on Oct. 31. They also found that he is eligible for the death penalty after prosecutors argued that his victims died in an especially cruel way.

Once the defense finishes their arguments in favor of a life sentence, jurors will then begin deliberations and could reach a verdict as early as this week.

On Monday, they heard from Mark Cunningham, a clinical and forensic psychologist who told them that Goudeau is likely to be a model inmate if given a life sentence based on his older age and past behavior behind bars, among other factors. He also is unlikely to commit any seriously violent offenses while confined, Cunningham said.

"We have a track record of over 15 years in prison without a serious assault," he said of Goudeau's time in prison.

In an emotional hearing last week, jurors heard from family members of the nine murder victims who spoke of the impact of their loved ones' deaths, causing many of the jurors to weep along with them.

"If I could just rip out my heart and put it in my hand to show you my great pain," said Juana Sanchez, whose 20-year-old daughter was killed with a co-worker by the Baseline Killer after her first day of working at a fast-food restaurant.

"Living without Liliana is the most painful thing my family has gone through," Sanchez said.

Goudeau already is serving a 438-year sentence stemming from a 2007 conviction of raping a woman while holding a gun to her sister's pregnant belly. That case also was tied to the Baseline Killer crimes.

Goudeau's attorney, Rod Carter, told jurors last week that he was confident they would agree with him that Goudeau deserves a life sentence.

"Mark Goudeau is still a man with a family," he said. "He's a brother, he's an uncle, he's a cousin, he's a friend."

Prosecutor Suzanne Cohen told the jury that no argument exists to convince them to sentence Goudeau to life, calling him a wolf in sheep's clothing who killed victims who didn't comply with his sexual demands.

"He chose to execute nine people because he didn't get what he wanted: sex, power, control," she said. "The death penalty is the appropriate punishment."