Mark Goudeau, a seemingly mild-mannered construction worker with a crooked smile, was condemned to death nine times Wednesday by a Phoenix jury for Arizona’s most horrific string of serial killings.
In October, Goudeau, known as the Baseline Killer, had been convicted of slaughtering eight women and one man—and robbing, kidnapping, and sexually assaulting several others. The voracious 11-month crime spree began in the summer of 2005 and ended in the summer of 2006.
Thanks to Arizona law, the same jury that convicted Goudeau of the nine murders was also given the task of deciding whether he should be put to death for his crimes.
The murder victims ranged in age from 19 to 39 and were mostly slender, light-skinned Latina women. They included a preschool teacher snatched from a bus stop, a stripper from a devoutly religious family, two women cooking in a food truck, a woman washing her car, a prostitute, a mother left dead in her bathtub who was discovered by her young son, and a man and a woman leaving their shift at a Japanese restaurant. The male restaurant worker was killed because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the eight women were all shot in the head because they would not submit “their bodies” to Goudeau’s requests for sexual favors, prosecutors said.
Days before Goudeau was sentenced to death, family members of victims told jurors the Baseline Killer had killed part of them, too. Juana Sanchez, the mother of Liliana Sanchez Cabrera, one of the Japanese-restaurant workers, sat quietly in the courtroom as a friend read her letter to the jury. If she could rip out her heart, she wrote, she could show her sorrow: “It’s very difficult to keep on living.”
Goudeau, 47, and his loyal wife of 20 years, Wendy Carr, 52, maintain he is innocent.
And Goudeau’s defense team claimed during the trial that multiple killers might have slaughtered the victims, and that police nabbed the wrong guy.
Carr, who owns a consulting company in Phoenix, told The Daily Beast shortly before her husband was sentenced that she had steeled herself for a death sentence but that it would be “hard.” She characterized Goudeau as a hardworking “good person and lover of life” who’d turned his life around after being released from prison. (Goudeau served 13 years for robbery, kidnapping, and assault and was released in 2004. Carr married him while he was in prison.)
“If I thought Mark was guilty,” she told The Daily Beast, “I would just go away.”
“I’m not crazy,” she said. “I’m a normal woman with normal boundaries.”
A slender woman with thick shoulder-length reddish-brown hair, Carr contends that authorities frequently lie about her husband and portray him as a “monster,” but “it makes me stronger the more they lie.” With each legal setback, she said, she becomes more determined to “seek justice for Mark.”
But incriminating DNA and ballistic evidence introduced by the prosecution during the trial, along with the fact that Goudeau is already serving a 438-year sentence for a prior kidnapping and sexual assault of two sisters, will make Carr’s quest for justice exceedingly difficult.
In the last phase of the trial, which concluded with Wednesday’s death sentences, the jury had expected to hear from psychologists, as well as Carr and Goudeau’s siblings, who would present “mitigating” factors that might sway the jury to spare Goudeau’s life. But Wendy Carr and Goudeau’s family members never testified—Goudeau stopped the proceeding after a psychologist suggested he suffered from impotence.
Goudeau, who refused a jailhouse-interview request for this story, must have known that the so-called mitigation phase of his trial would be difficult for him. He had asked to skip this phase but was forced to show up in court by the judge.
As the mitigation proceeding began, Goudeau seemed noticeably uncomfortable. Dressed in a tight sports jacket that showed the outlines of a thick restraining device encircling his waist, he appeared to retreat into himself as he hunched over a manila envelope at the defense table.
Mark Cunningham, a forensic psychologist who frequently testifies for the defense in capital cases, told the jury Goudeau was born into a dysfunctional, substance-abusing family with a history of crime and philandering.
According to Cunningham, Goudeau’s paternal grandfather was a self-styled polygamist.
Cunningham testified that Goudeau’s father, Willie, was “chronically philandering” and “hypersexualized.”
Mark Goudeau’s parents, Willie and Alberta, had 13 children of their own. But Willie’s “multiple infidelities” resulted in the birth of “eight or nine” additional children born out of wedlock, the psychologist told the jury.
Willie “exploited” women, Cunningham testified, and as a result his son Mark developed “a fractured and shattered sexuality.”
While Cunningham testified, Goudeau’s broad shoulders appeared increasingly tense. He pointedly ignored courtroom television monitors flickering with flow charts displaying his family’s history of crime and substance abuse.
He stopped his own mitigation proceeding immediately after Cunningham told the jury that Goudeau’s “recurrent need to express supreme domination” over women victims stemmed from “enormous feelings of defectiveness, inadequacy, and impotence.”
“I don’t want nothing to do with this [Cunningham] guy,” Goudeau told the judge.
Sexual dysfunction isn’t all that unusual for a serial killer, says former FBI profiler Gregg McCrary, an expert on sex crimes and serial killings who testifies frequently in criminal trials. “There are rapists and serial killers who are impotent,” he told The Daily Beast in a telephone interview.
“Mark shut the mitigation phase down,” Carr told The Daily Beast, “because it was a freak show.”
Any allegation that her husband is impotent “is not true,” she said.
“And if you ask Mark about his childhood,” she added, “he talks very lovingly about his family... there are no terrible stories.”
Oddly, that’s the one point of agreement between Carr and Patricia Stevens, the Maricopa County prosecutor who asked the jury to sentence Goudeau to death. Goudeau had a loving, good family and did not suffer abuse or neglect, she told the jury. He viewed people as “objects” and “committed murder because he wanted to.”
Goudeau’s current sentence of more than 400 years for the previous sexual assaults, plus nine life sentences for the Baseline murders, plus upcoming separate sentences for more than 50 other crimes connected to the Baseline Killer, would have assured that he would die in prison. But Stevens, the prosecutor, urged the jury to condemn him to death for each of the nine Baseline murders because the death penalty is an “expression of moral outrage.”
What’s more, sparing Goudeau would reward him for killing nine people, Stevens said.
Goudeau also spoke to the jury. After blaming his lawyers for an inept defense, he said: “I am no monster.”
In the end, the jurors sided with the prosecutors.
But the death sentences do not spell the end of the Baseline Killer’s courtroom appearances. An automatic appeal will be filed on his behalf.
And several family members of the Baseline Killer’s victims have filed two wrongful-death suits against Goudeau, Carr, and the city of Phoenix in Maricopa County Superior Court, contending that the Phoenix police delayed in procuring timely and thorough DNA testing that could have prompted an earlier arrest of Goudeau, thus preventing some of the killings. The city of Phoenix has denied it acted negligently, and Goudeau and Carr have denied that Goudeau committed the murders.
Carr filed for divorce from Goudeau in late November. She calls it a “legal separation only,” and says she will stay by his side “as long as I can help him.”