|For Immediate Release
Case # 07ZF0009 April 29, 2013
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
STEPSON SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS TO LIFE IN STATE PRISON FOR STABBING-MURDER OF MOTHER’S CANCER-STRICKEN HUSBAND IN MURDER-FOR-PROFIT CONSPIRACY
SANTA ANA – A stepson was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in state prison for the stabbing-murder of his mother’s cancer-stricken third husband in a conspiracy to financially profit from his insurance and 401(k) death benefits. Thomas Dayton Aehlert, 43, Gold Canyon, AZ, pleaded guilty Oct. 7, 2011, to one felony count of second degree murder.
The victim’s wife, Sandra Jessee, 62, formerly of Placentia, was found guilty by a jury in a re-trial Dec. 7, 2011, of one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain and one felony count of conspiracy. She was sentenced March 23, 2012, to life in state prison without the possibility of parole.
Thomas Joseph Garrick, 37, Laguna Hills, was charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder for financial gain and one felony count conspiracy to commit murder. Garrick was found not guilty by a jury on all counts, Feb. 14, 2013, despite arguments by the People that Garrick stabbed and murdered 56-year-old Jack Jessee and was accused of the following:
In the spring of 1998, Sandra Jessee’s third husband of 15 years, Jack Jessee, was diagnosed with cancer. Sandra Jessee wanted to move to Arizona, where Aehlert had recently moved. The victim did not want to leave California, where his adult children lived.
Between June 1, 1998, and July 1, 1999, Sandra Jessee conspired with Aehlert to hire a hit man to murder Jack Jessee for financial gain. Sandra Jessee wanted to have the victim murdered because she resented having to care for him and did not want to deplete their retirement savings, believing that insurance would not cover all of his cancer treatments.
On several occasions in June 1998, Aehlert called friend Brett Schrauben, now-41, to solicit and arrange the murder of Jack Jessee in exchange for $50,000. On June 24, 1998, Sandra Jessee met Schrauben in a store parking lot in Placentia. She paid him $5,000 to kill her husband while she was away from her home and instructed him to make the murder look like a residential burglary.
On Aug. 13, 1998, Aehlert called Schrauben to discuss the murder, which was to take place that day. Schrauben requested his friend, Garrick, be the get-away driver.
That morning, Garrick is accused of driving Schrauben to the Jessee’s home so that Schrauben could carry out the murder, but they left after Schrauben changed his mind. When Schrauben called Aehlert and told him that the murder had not been committed, Aehlert told Schrauben that Jack Jessee had to be murdered that night or else Sandra Jessee would do it herself.