|For Immediate Release
Case # 08ZF0031
October 29, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
DISGRUNTLED CONSTRUCTION WORKER CONVICTED OF MURDERING AUTISTIC SECURITY GUARD DURING BURGLARY OF HIS FORMER JOB SITE AT A CHURCH
*Co-defendant is pending trial in this case
SANTA ANA – A construction worker was convicted today of murdering a security guard, who suffered from high-functioning autism, while burglarizing a construction site at a church from which he had recently been fired. David Joseph Zimmer, 21, Long Beach, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of special circumstances murder in the commission of a robbery and a burglary, one felony count of second degree robbery, and one felony count of second degree commercial burglary. He faces a sentence of life without the possibility of parole at his sentencing on Nov. 13, 2009, at 1:30 p.m. in Department C-41, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Co-defendant Sean Christopher Hodge, 28, Long Beach, (Case #07WF2313) is charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder in the commission of a robbery, one felony count of second degree robbery, and one felony count of second degree commercial burglary. He faces a sentence of life without the possibility of parole if convicted. Hodge is being held without bail and is scheduled for a pre-trial trial setting conference on Dec. 4, 2009, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-30, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
At approximately 3:00 a.m. on Sept. 14, 2007, Zimmer broke into a storage facility at a construction site for Cottonwood Church in Cypress with the intention of stealing expensive welding equipment. The defendant, a welder, had worked on the construction site but had been fired four months earlier. Hodge is accused of breaking into the facility with the intent to steal the equipment with Zimmer.
While the defendants were stealing the equipment, 51-year-old security guard Michael Garry approached Zimmer and Hodge and attempted to speak with them. The victim, who lived with his brother in Long Beach, suffered from Asperger Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. Hodge is accused of engaging the victim in conversation to distract him as Zimmer hit him from behind with his fist and a blunt object.
After rendering the victim unconscious, Zimmer continued to load the stolen equipment into his truck. Hodge is accused of also loading stolen items into the vehicle. When Garry began to regain consciousness, Zimmer repeatedly struck the victim. The defendants then fled the scene.
Garry was discovered lying in the dirt later that morning by construction workers arriving at the job site. He was transported to the hospital and died shortly thereafter due to blunt force trauma to the head.
Investigators linked Hodge and Zimmer to the crime through Zimmer’s fingerprints found at the scene. Hodge was arrested for the crime on Oct. 3, 2007, and a warrant was issued for Zimmer, who had fled to Mexico in September.