The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office:
Defendant Samson Musselini Little Bear Joaquin, age 25 years, formerly of Covelo, was sentenced in the Mendocino County Superior Court Wednesday afternoon to 31 years to life in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Defendant Joaquin was convicted by guilty pleas entered in June to two counts of murder in the second degree. He also admitted to personally using a deadly and dangerous weapon to inflict death on the two victims.
The factual basis prepared in writing by the prosecutor – and signed off on personally by the defendant and by his defense attorney — was that “With both express and implied malice aforethought, defendant Samson Joaquin intentionally killed Kyle McCartney and Traci Bland by use of a splitting maul/fire axe in Mendocino County [on November 19, 2020].”
The Mendocino County Adult Probation report and sentencing recommendation prepared for the sentencing hearing characterized the defendant and his 2020 crimes as “heinous and pure evil.”
In turn, the defense argued at Wednesday’s sentencing hearing that the defendant barely remembers what he or others did; that he was really a “victim” of his own voluntary consumption of drugs and alcohol, defense arguments scoffed at by the prosecutor when it was his turn to speak.
Family members of the real victims were present during Wednesday’s hearing, as they have been for every court hearing since the original arraignment.
As part of his June change of plea proceedings, defendant Joaquin was required to waive all custody credits from the date of his original arrest to Wednesday’s sentencing date. He was also required to waive all appellate rights.
Other criminal participants convicted for their varying degrees of involvement in the same crime spree that resulted in the aforementioned deaths are:
Joaquina Patrice Joaquin, sentenced on November 19, 2021 to over 31 years in state prison;
Janet Faye Azbill, sentenced on December 1, 2021 to over 14 years in state prison;
Leonard Britton Azbill, Sr., sentenced on December 9, 2022 to 6 years in state prison; and
Joseph Joshua Hoaglen, sentenced on January 21, 2022 to over 25 years in state prison.
An additional in-custody co-defendant, David Lee Joaquin, Jr., had his sentencing hearing rescheduled from Thursday afternoon to August 31, 2022 due to health issues.
The prosecutor who has been handling these matters is District Attorney David Eyster.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ann Moorman accepted the defendant’s guilty pleas and weapon admission in June and presided over Wednesday’s sentencing hearing.