Guilty verdict reached in Noonkester double murder trial
RED BLUFF, Calif. - John Noonkester, 35, was on trial for the murder of his ex-wife and her father in Lake California in July 2015. On Monday he was ruled guilty of first-degree murder in both killings.
The Tehama County man faced two charges of first-degree murder. Deputies said he allegedly shot and killed his ex-wife, Kimberlee Thomas, 29, and her father, Keith Thomas, 53, outside of the Little Country Store in Lake California, following an argument July 3, 2015.
Noonkester's attorney argued that while video evidence clearly shows that he shot the pair, it doesn't show why. He added that Noonkester was "in protective mode because his children were around a predator".
In total, Noonkester was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of assault and special allegations for use of a firearm and for multiple murders. This means he could face life in prison.
District Attorney, Gregg Cohen, said he's happy with the jury's decision. He said the victim's family helped in the decision of whether Noonkester faces the death penalty.
"The victim's family initially, after quite a bit of discussion understood that the death penalty is not likely to occur in the state of California and someone who is sentenced to death is given kind of preferential treatment in prison when they are placed on death row. Kind of a special status. So, the family was pretty strong on him not wanting to get anything special. John Noonkester wasn't entitled to anything special and we didn't want to make him a special person."
Noonkester's sentencing will be at 8:30 a.m. on November 9.