A caregiver who stole more than $500,000 from an 88- year-old Rancho Bernardo man, then killed him so she could be independently wealthy was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder and other charges.
Denise Michelle Goodwin, 47, will be sent to prison for life without the possibility of parole at a hearing Dec. 5.
Jurors, who started deliberations a week ago, found Goodwin guilty of 11 counts, including murder for financial gain in the death of Gerald Rabourn, who disappeared in October 2010. His body was never found.
Goodwin wept quietly as the guilty verdict was read. She was also convicted of caregiver theft by an adult, fraudulent appropriation by a trustee, grand theft and forgery of documents.
In his closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Bill Mitchell told jurors that Goodwin was a “predator disguised as a caregiver,” targeting elderly men with money and no family nearby.
Mitchell said Goodwin endeared herself to Rabourn after being hired to care for his 91-year-old wife, Carolyn, who died of lung cancer in September 2010.
Gerald Rabourn trusted Goodwin and allowed her access to his bank account after she convinced him that she could help with his finances, the prosecutor said.
“Gerald Rabourn was sucked in and taken to the cleaners,” Mitchell told the jury. “She (Goodwin) had found her golden goose. He (Rabourn) thought she (Goodwin) was wonderful. He thought he was getting something for nothing. When it came to his money, he wanted to keep it.”
The prosecutor said Mary Weaver, Rabourn’s daughter from his first marriage, tried in October 2010 to persuade her father to move to the Midwest, but he said he was “planning to live with Denise.”
Weaver said she last spoke to her father on Oct. 19, 2010, but didn’t report him missing until February, when she didn’t get a birthday card from him.
A few days later, Rabourn’s grandson got a call from a woman named Carmen, who said she and Rabourn got married in Las Vegas and asked his family not to contact them, Mitchell said.
The prosecutor said the defendant used Rabourn’s money to buy properties in Temecula, telling people she got an inheritance from her father.
Once she got her name added to Rabourn’s account, Goodwin arranged for his $3,000-a-month pension check to be automatically deposited, Mitchell said.
Goodwin signed a quit-claim deed on Rabourn’s home and listed it for $381,000, taking the profit from the sale, the prosecutor said.
Mitchell said Rabourn died by “criminal means,” though how she disposed of the body was unknown.
Defense attorney Ron Bobo told jurors there was plenty of evidence linking Goodwin to misappropriating Rabourn’s money, but it was a “giant leap” to suggest that his client was a hardened criminal guilty of murder.
Goodwin was arrested in July 2011 as she boarded a plane for a European vacation.
The defendant’s adult son, Michael Goodwin, is charged with illegally possessing Rabourn’s car. He has a pretrial hearing this month.
— City News Service
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: