General Crime

Patrick Wayne Willis Faces Life In Prison For The Murder Of Cheryl Walker And Marsha Gulley Twenty-One Years Ago

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A man is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole after being convicted of brutally murdering two women 13 days apart in Oakland more than two decades ago after he had sex with them. An Alameda County Superior Court jury announced its verdict against Patrick Wayne Willis, 49, late Monday after deliberating for two days. In addition to convicting Willis of two counts of first-degree murder, jurors convicted him of two special-circumstance allegations of sexual penetration by force during the course of a murder and committing multiple murders. Prosecutor Annie Saadi said today that the two women finally “got the justice they deserved,” even if it took a long time, as the case had remained unsolved for more than 19 years until DNA evidence led authorities to arrest and charge Willis in October 2011. Saadi said she believes Willis may have selected the two women as victims because they were drug users he thought were vulnerable. She said he may have lured them by offering them drugs and alcohol.

The first victim, 31-year-old Cheryl Walker, was found dead with a noose wrapped around her neck by a creek near 82nd Avenue and Hillside Street on Jan. 29, 1992. Saadi said she had been strangled. She said Willis’ sperm was found on Walker and on the second victim, 23-year-old Marsha Gulley, who was located a block away, at 84th Avenue and Hillside Street, on Feb. 11, 1992. Saadi said Willis grew up in the area where the women’s bodies were found. She said Willis lived in Sacramento at the time of the murders but often came back to the Oakland neighborhood to visit his mother, who still lived there. Willis’ lawyer, Thomas Broome, told jurors during the trial that Willis may have had sex with both women but there’s no evidence that he killed them. However, Saadi argued that the evidence in the case indicated that Willis was the last man to have sex with Walker, so it is logical to conclude
that he was the person who killed her. She also argued that evidence links Willis to Gulley’s death.

The prosecutor said she believes Willis tortured Walker because witnesses heard her screaming at 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 28, 1992, and again at 5 a.m. the next day, Jan. 29, 1992. Her body was found at 8:30 a.m. that day. Saadi said there is evidence that Willis beat and tortured Walker and stabbed the second victim 32 times, Saadi said. Broome couldn’t be reached for comment today. Willis is scheduled to be sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Gloria Rhynes on Sept. 13.

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