FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A bullet taken from the skull of a woman whose body was discovered in northern Arizona was fired from a rifle owned by an Air Force airman charged in her death, authorities said Wednesday.
Mark Gooch has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and other charges in the death of Sasha Krause, a 27-year-old who disappeared from the Mennonite community where she lived near Farmington, New Mexico, on Jan. 18.
Her body was found off a forest road north of Flagstaff more than a month later. An autopsy determined Krause, who previously was a school teacher in Texas, died of a gunshot wound to the head and had suffered blunt force trauma.
Results from state crime lab testing indicate the bullet matches a .22-caliber rifle that belonged to Gooch, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office said.
Gooch’s attorney, Matthew Springer, didn’t immediately respond to a message left at his office Wednesday.
Testing of the duct tape that bound Krause’s hands did not detect any human DNA, according to sheriff’s records reviewed by The Associated Press this week. Analysts also weren’t able to reveal any fingerprints from the tape that could be compared against others.
Results are pending on DNA taken from underneath Krause’s fingernails and her neck.
The sheriff’s office said it will not release the results of a sexual assault exam kit to protect Krause’s privacy and that of her family. The autopsy noted no definitive evidence of injury to Krause’s genital area. She was not wearing underwear when she was found.
Gooch’s older brother, Samuel, was arrested in the Phoenix area in early May after he flew to Arizona from Wisconsin to pick up what he thought was the rifle used in the killing, authorities said. A grand jury in Coconino County later indicted him on a single felony charge of attempting to hinder prosecution, according to the sheriff’s office.
Samuel Gooch is not in custody. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Coconino County Superior Court Clerk Valerie Wyant said the case is sealed.
Jon Paxton, a spokesman for the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, said Samuel Gooch recently was served with the indictment and no court dates have been set.
One of Mark Gooch’s friends told authorities that Mark Gooch asked him to store a .22-caliber rifle because he wasn’t allowed to have it at Luke Air Force base where he was stationed in metropolitan Phoenix. Authorities seized the weapon, replaced it with a nearly identical one and waited for Samuel Gooch to pick it up before arresting him, the sheriff’s office said.
Samuel Gooch told a sheriff’s detective after his arrest that Mark Gooch never asked him to get rid of the gun.
“I made some hard decisions and we’ll see where this goes,” Samuel Gooch said, according to an audio recording of the interview.
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