Ex-soldier found guilty of Barstow woman’s murder

VICTORVILLE • A jury found a former Fort Irwin soldier guilty of the murder and robbery of a fellow ex-soldier from Barstow.

Melvin Lee Satcher, 24, was found guilty of first degree murder, robbery, and a special firearms allegation in the killing of Sandi Duncan, 29, who was also a former Fort Irwin soldier. The jury returned the verdict after deliberating for five hours.

Ex-Fort Irwin soldier Phillip Ryan Franke, 27, of Las Vegas, is also charged with Duncan’s murder and robbery. Judge John M. Tomberlin separated their trials before jury selection. Franke’s trial is expected to begin in January.

Duncan’s body was found in a remote desert area in Apple Valley on Sept. 21, 2009. Authorities determined that Duncan was strangled — and likely unconscious — before she was shot twice.

At an evidence hearing police said Franke admitted that he was involved in a robbery and saw Satcher shoot Duncan twice, splitting $400 Duncan had between themselves and two other people.

In the trial, Deputy District Attorney Jill M. Gregory argued that cell phone records placing Satcher in Apple Valley at the time Duncan likely died and his lying to police were evidence of his guilt. Satcher’s attorney Ronald Allen Powell said Gregory presented only circumstantial evidence and did not prove Satcher’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Gregory said she was pleased with the verdict returned by the jury.

“The jury paid careful and thoughtful attention to all the evidence and came to a right and just verdict,” said Gregory.

Powell did not return a phone call for a response Friday afternoon.

Satcher is expected to face 25 years to life in prison. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 14 in Victorville.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or adome@desertdispatch.com

 

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