General Crime

* Joshua Begley sentenced to life without parole for the murder of Taku Sakashta guitar craftsman

A man convicted of killing Rohnert Park custom guitar maker Taku Sakashita was sentenced to life in prison without parole this afternoon in Sonoma County Superior Court.In a brief statement before the sentencing and in a letter to the court, Joshua Begley, 29, maintained the jury convicted an innocent man.”Today you will be sentencing the wrong person. Whatever sentence you will impose will be transformed into a crown of thorns,” Begley told Judge Kenneth Gnoss.Sakashita, 43, known professionally as Taku Sakashta, was stabbed 11 times in his workshop at 643 Martin Ave. on Feb. 11. Rohnert Park police found his body early the next morning in bushes outside his shop after his wife Kazuko Sakashita reported he had not come home from work that night. His wallet, cell phone, checkbook, car keys and cash were missing.Begley was convicted Sept. 28 of first-degree murder during a robbery and of burglary, robbery,second-degree burglary, evading a police officer, and a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest during a separate incident in Petaluma three days before the murder.In addition to the life sentence for the murder, Gnoss sentenced Begley to six years in prison for evading police, use of a deadly weapon and for having two prior prison commitments.Kazuko Sakashita told Gnoss the couple would have celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary last Friday.She recalled his accomplishments as a custom guitar maker for well-known musicians, including Robben Ford and Boz Scaggs, and the joy he took in his craft.”I still can’t believe that the life of such a husband of mine was taken away in this manner,” she said.Kazuko Sakashita went looked for her husband at the workshop when he failed to return home, but she did not find him. Before she called police, she also called several hospitals to see if he was taken there after an accident.She told the judge she still wakes up at night thinking her husband is not home yet before realizing he will never come home.”I believe I will continue to experience this heartache as long as I live,” she said.The widow also said she feels “immeasurable terror” of Begley and asked the court to sentence him to prison for life “for the peace and safety of other people’s lives.”In his Oct. 20 letter to the judge, Begley said the jury didn’t follow the law by requiring the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.He said one juror admitted on the first day of the trial she was afraid of him and asked if he was shackled at the defense table.”I think that is enough for her to be excused, because she is presumeing (sic) guilt on the first day of the trial,” Begley wrote.In the letter, which was fraught with typos, he also said the prosecution twisted the facts and witnesses’ statements, and described speculations about “what they think happened” during closing arguments.”Last I would ask the court to have mercy when sentenceing me,” Begley wrote. “I know I hav’nt been the best person in the world, but I am not the person that I am being accused of being. And not the person who commited these crimes, theirfore I humbley ask the court to impose the minimum sentence.”

Joshua Begley

Joshua Begley

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