news 5 months ago

Parents Learn Painful Detail as Daughter's Killer Sentenced

Newser — Arden Dier

"I snapped." With that, a California man admitted to the murders of an engaged couple shot in the head at close range as they slept on a beach in Jenner 15 years ago.

The 2004 murders stumped law enforcement for more than a decade before a now-40-year-old survivalist was arrested for the fatal shooting of his brother in 2017.

Shaun Gallon then confessed to killing Midwesterners Lindsay Cutshall, 22, and Jason Allen, 26, in audio heard by the victims' families for the first time Monday in a Sonoma County courtroom, shortly before Gallon was handed three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, per the San Francisco Chronicle.

Among the painful revelations: Allen was shot first. Then "the girl sat up."

  • "We were hoping she was still sleeping," Cutshall's father, a pastor, said in his victim impact statement; he heard that detail from Gallon's April 2017 confession for the first time in court on Monday.

"To think I was just three and a half weeks away from officiating that wedding." During her own statement, Cutshall's mother held her daughter’s wedding dress, tags still on.

"It represents what they lost," she said.

  • The couple had been working at a Christian summer camp before taking a sightseeing trip up the California coast.

Gallon said he assumed they were homeless when he spotted them descending down an embankment. He later returned to the area, climbed down a 200-foot cliff, and shot Allen in the head as he slept.

  • Cutshall "sat up and looked at her boyfriend, and by that time I had already cocked and shot her behind the ear," Gallon said in the confession tape.

"I just made myself do it," he added. "I don't know what I was thinking."

  • Public defender Jeff Mitchell attributed the "senseless" killings to his client's mental health issues, noting Gallon "was never the same" after a 2001 LSD trip, per the Washington Post.

But he said Gallon was remorseful and had written to the victims' families.

  • He was arrested on weapons charges in the days after the 2004 killings after being found on a nearby beach dressed in camouflage.

Years later, his father told detectives he had disposed of his son's guns after Gallon called him after his arrest and asked him to do so.

In a subsequent search of Gallon's apartment, officers found dead animals and "clumps of hair and blood" but no murder weapon or other evidence tying him to the couple.

His father committed suicide in 2013.

  • The eventual confession came after Gallon admitted to shooting his brother multiple times in the chest and neck with an AR-15, per the Chronicle.

The Press Democrat describes a childhood grudge over a punch Gallon had thrown. Gallon also pleaded no contest to the 2004 attempted murder of a man with a package bomb, per the Chronicle.

  • The 2004 killings might have been avoided, the Post reports, describing a police theory that the couple had tried to get a room at a nearby motel, only to find it full.
  • The couple had written in a journal kept in a chest on the beach for visitors to sign, and their entries told of a couple in love with each other and with life.

"As I stir this Mac & Cheese I think to myself what a wonderful life," Jason wrote, per the Coshocton Tribune. "I've just spent two awsome (sic) days with my fiancé Lindsay. Can life ever be so perfect."

More From Newser

This article originally appeared on Newser: Parents Learn Painful Detail as Daughter's Killer Sentenced