Jury finds Sarah Gonzales McLinn guilty in murder of Lawrence man

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — A Douglas County jury found a 20-year-old Lawrence woman guilty of murdering her roommate on Friday afternoon. Jurors deliberated for more than four hours before convicting Sarah Gonzales McLinn of first-degree murder in the death of Lawrence businessman Harold “Hal” Sasko.

McLinn’s lawyers tried to use insanity as a defense for her violent act against 52-year-old Sasko, but were unsuccessful.

Sasko was a businessman who owned a CiCi’s Pizza restaurant in Lawrence and two others in Topeka. He was killed Jan. 14, 2014. He had been drugged, bound and his throat cut with a large knife almost to his spine.

Immediately after his death, McLinn was missing along with Sasko’s 2008 Nissan Altima.  On January 25, McLinn was found in Sasko’s car illegally camping in the Florida Everglades and taken into federal custody on an unrelated drug charge. She was soon returned to Kansas.

Police recorded their interview with her after they arrested her in January and it was replayed for the jury. In it, McLinn is heard telling police that for two years she’d been thinking about killing someone and decided a few days before to kill Sasko.

McLinn’s lawyer left disappointed–saying his client suffers from mental illness, which causes her to have two personalities.

“I was hoping that it would be not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, ” said defense attorney Carl Cornwell. “I have to respect what the jury has said, but I certainly don’t agree with this, but it’s their decision.”

After the verdict came down, relatives of both Sasko and McLinn quickly left the courthouse without talking to reporters. On Monday, a judge should announce McLinn’s sentencing day.

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