Fired worker convicted of murdering church guard

| October 30, 2009

SANTA ANA – A Long Beach man who was fired from a construction site at a Cypress church in May 2007 was convicted today of murdering the church's night security guard during a robbery five months later.

A jury deliberated for a little more than an hour today before finding that David Joseph Zimmer, 21, committed first-degree murder plus the special circumstances of murder during a robbery and murder during a burglary.

Those findings qualify Zimmer for a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Superior Court Judge James A. Stotler scheduled Zimmer's sentencing for Nov. 13.

Deputy District Attorney Sonia Balleste said Zimmer returned in the early morning hours of Sept, 14, 2007, to the Cottonwood Church in the 4500 block of Katella Avenue in Cypress five months after he was fired.

Zimmer was in the process of stealing expensive construction equipment when Michael Garry, who worked for a private security service, approached and asked what was going on, according to witnesses.

Balleste argued that Zimmer then struck Garry from behind with a pipe-like instrument because he feared he would be recognized from his earlier employment. The murder weapon was never found.

Garry was found unconscious and seriously wounded hours later when the construction crew arrived at the site. He died later after being rushed to a hospital.

Zimmer was linked to the crime after his fingerprints were found on a piece of welding equipment used during the burglary, Balleste said. She also presented evidence that he confessed to the beating to friends and fled to Mexico shortly afterward.

A trial is pending for co-defendant Sean Christopher Hodge, 28, of Long Beach, who allegedly participated in the robbery with Zimmer, Balleste said.

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Category: Church Security

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