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Man convicted in killing of security guard at church construction site

August 27, 2010 | 11:38 am

A Long Beach man was convicted Friday of voluntary manslaughter in connection with the killing of a security guard while burglarizing a Cypress church construction site.

Sean Christopher Hodge, 29, of Long Beach, pleaded guilty to one felony count of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 11 years in state prison for his role in the death of 51-year-old Michael Garry, who suffered from Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism.

Hodge testified last October against a co-defendant, David Joseph Zimmer, 22, of Long Beach. Zimmer was found guilty by a jury on Oct. 29 of  murder during the commission of a robbery and a burglary, second-degree robbery and second-degree commercial burglary. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole on June 4.

In September 2007, Zimmer along with Hodge broke into a storage facility at a construction site for Cottonwood Church in Cypress, seeking to steal expensive welding equipment. Zimmer, a welder, had worked on the construction site but had been fired four months earlier.

But Garry spotted Zimmer and Hodge and attempted to speak with them. The victim was then hit on the head by Zimmer as Hodge engaged him in a conversation.

With Garry knocked out, the pair continued to load the stolen equipment into his truck. Orange County prosecutors say that when Garry began to regain consciousness, Zimmer repeatedly struck the victim before fleeing the scene.

Garry was discovered lying in the dirt at daybreak by construction workers arriving at the job site. He died shortly after being taken to a hospital.  Detectives tied Hodge and Zimmer to the crime because Zimmer’s fingerprints were found at the scene, according to prosecutors.

--Richard Winton