Caregiver gets life in prison for murder of elderly man
SAN DIEGO — A caregiver who killed an 88-year-old Rancho Bernardo man and drained his bank accounts of nearly $600,000 was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Denise Michelle Goodwin, 47, was convicted last October of first-degree murder and murder for financial gain in the death of Gerald Rabourn, who disappeared in October 2010. His body was never found.
Deputy District Attorney Bill Mitchell said Goodwin convinced Rabourn that she could manage his money, then took everything he had and killed him so her crimes wouldn’t be discovered.
“She’s a thief disguised as a churchgoer; she’s a killer disguised as a caregiver,” Mitchell told Judge Charles Rogers before Goodwin was sentenced.
Goodwin targeted elderly men who had money but no family nearby, according to the prosecutor. He said the defendant endeared herself to Rabourn after being hired to care for his 91-year-old wife, Carolyn, who died of lung cancer in September 2010.
Rabourn trusted Goodwin and allowed her access to his bank account after she convinced him that she could help with his finances, the prosecutor said.
“Gerald Rabourn was sucked in and taken to the cleaners,” Mitchell told jurors. “She (Goodwin) had found her golden goose. He (Rabourn) thought she (Goodwin) was wonderful. He thought he was getting something for nothing. When it came to his money, he wanted to keep it.”
The victim’s son called Goodwin a “pariah on society.”
“My father did not deserve to be murdered,” Gerald Rabourn Jr. son told the judge.
Rabourn’s daughter said her father was a gentle and kind man who did not deserve to die in a violent way. Mary Weaver said her father — who took “Jack Lalanne care of his body” — was more of a “miser” than “greedy,” enjoying the money he had saved.
Before sentencing, Rogers denied a defense motion to reduce Goodwin’s conviction from first- to second-degree murder.
Attorney Ron Bobo told jurors during the trial that there was plenty of evidence linking Goodwin to misappropriating Rabourn’s money, but it was a “giant leap” to suggest that his client was a hardened criminal guilty of murder.
Goodwin was arrested in July 2011 as she boarded a plane for a European vacation.
She declined to speak at Friday’s hearing.
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