The following is a press release issued by the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office:
A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations Monday afternoon to announce that it had found the trial defendant guilty.
Originally charged in Count One with murder in the first degree (meaning “willful, deliberate and premeditated”), defendant Christopher Wayne Gamble, age 48 of Willits, was instead found guilty by jury verdict of the murder in the second degree of Ulises Andrade Ayala, a lesser homicide crime, occurring at a marijuana grow on Sherwood Road.
The jury found true a special allegation charged by the District Attorney that the defendant personally and intentionally discharged a firearm causing the demise of Mr. Andrade Ayala.
In a second count, defendant Gamble was found guilty by jury verdict of the murder in the first degree of Anwar Ayala Rodriguez, said killing occurring at the same grow site on Sherwood Road.
Again, the jury found true a second special allegation that the defendant separately, personally and intentionally discharged a firearm causing the demise of Mr. Ayala Rodriguez.
In a third count, defendant Gamble was found guilty by jury verdict of animal abuse, a felony charge relating to a number of roosters found by law enforcement in a burn pile, along with the headless bodies of the two human victims.
The severed heads of the human victims were never located by law enforcement.
Finally, the jury found true a special circumstance alleging that defendant Gamble committed at least two murders, with at least one of the two being murder of the first degree.
As the death penalty had been taken off the table by the prosecution early in the case, the true finding on the special circumstance will result in a sentence of LWOP, the acronym used for denoting a state prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
The true findings on the two allegations alleging use of a firearm to commit murder carry a sentencing enhancement of 25 years to life each.
The law enforcement agencies that developed the evidence supporting Monday’s jury verdicts and findings were the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force, the Department of Justice crime laboratory, and the District Attorney’s own Bureau of Investigation.
Special thanks are also extended to Department of Anthropology at Chico State for their forensic assistance in the investigation, as well as to the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority for their assistance.
The attorney who prepared the People’s case against defendant Gamble and argued the defendant’s guilt to the jury was Senior Deputy District Attorney Scott McMenomey.
Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder presided over the two-week trial.