SAN DIEGO — An 85-year-old man who gunned down his estranged wife in broad daylight in the Gaslamp District about two years ago was convicted Friday of first-degree murder.
Joseph Gotell faces 50 years to life in prison when he is sentenced July 5 for the death of his 57-year-old spouse.
Authorities said Gotell confronted his wife, Deborah, about 2:15 p.m. on May 14, 2011, near the corner of Fifth Avenue and Broadway, while she was running errands. He pulled out a .32-caliber handgun and shot her twice in the head and once in the right arm. She was declared brain-dead the next morning.
A witness testified at a preliminary hearing in January that he was standing outside his workplace at the Se Hotel when he heard a loud “pop or bang,” then up to four more.
Gregory Bowler said he saw the defendant pointing a gun at a woman and firing. After the shooting, “he (Gotell) casually flipped his gun away,” Bowler said.
The witness said he ran to the victim, who still had smoke coming from a head wound. Bowler said he heard the defendant mutter, “That (expletive) bitch, I’ve been dealing with this for years.”
Carolyn Manigault testified that she saw Gotell shove his wife into a store window before shooting her.
Authorities said Gotell was quickly detained by two hotel security guards, who turned him over to a passing San Diego police officer.
The victim’s three adult daughters said their mother had broken away several times from the defendant, but he kept showing up in places where he knew she would be.
Gotell’s attorney, Kathleen Lee, told jurors her client had two strokes before the fatal shooting and suffers from dementia.