FLAGSTAFF, AZ — A man who killed an Arizona elementary school teacher after she bailed him out of jail was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday.
Charlie Malzahn, 32, pleaded guilty in June to first-degree murder, abandonment of a body, and other charges in the death of Cathryn Gorospe. A sentencing hearing was held Tuesday in Coconino County Superior Court in Flagstaff.
Prosecutors agreed to drop capital punishment as a sentencing option for Malzahn in exchange for his pleas.
Gorospe, 44, went missing in October 2017 after posting bond for Malzahn, who was jailed in Coconino County and had at least three prior felony convictions for crimes that spanned the state. She put up her house as collateral and had hoped to help Malzahn curb drug addictions and straighten out his life.
Instead, he stabbed her multiple times near Williams where the two met. He was the stepson of a police chief and working at a restaurant, and Gorospe was working a summer job as a tour guide in the town that's about an hour from the Grand Canyon.
Malzahn was later seen driving Gorospe's blood-stained SUV in Phoenix and was arrested after fleeing from law enforcement. He gave authorities details and directions that narrowed the search for Gorospe's body.
Gorospe's remains were found on private property in Mayer, about 85 miles south of Williams. Along with multiple stab wounds, she had broken ribs and defensive wounds. The remains were identified using dental records.
Gorospe and Malzahn had dated for about a month, according to records. She taught schoolchildren in the Phoenix area, and her family has said she was a special person who loved children and animals and always saw the best in everyone.
Malzahn has spent the last few years jailed in Maricopa County on separate charges and at the state psychiatric hospital to ensure he was competent to proceed with the murder case in Coconino County.
On Tuesday, Malzahn was sentenced for charges including first-degree murder and others:
- On the charge of first-degree murder, Malzahn will spend life in prison.
- Sentenced to 15 years for armed robbery.
- Sentenced to 2.5 years for theft of means of transportation.
- Sentenced to 2.5 years for theft of a credit card.
- Sentenced to 2.5 years for abandonment of Gorospe's body.
Malzahn has served for 1,737 days on charges other than first-degree murder.