RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Jonathan Sander has been found guilty on three counts of first-degree murder in the 2016 triple killing of his neighbors.
Sander was charged with murdering three of his neighbors — Sandy, Stephanie, and Elaine Mazzella on March 25, 2016.
Sander could receive the death penalty.
Following the verdict, Sander spoke out saying “I’ll see you soon, Sal. Have a nice day.”
Sal Mazzella’s wife Elaine, son Sandy, and daughter-in-law Stephanie were all murdered by Sander.
Judge Graham Ridgeway then warned Sander about what he was saying even though the jury was not in the room at the time.
“Put me to death. That’s what’s going to happen anyway,” Sander then said. “I was framed. And that’s the way it is. Justice will be served,” Sander told Ridgeway.
“That is the aim of this court, sir,” Ridgeway said in retort.
Sander and Sandy Mazzella not only worked together but lived together at times, and they became neighbors. The friends began to feud over money, and in March 2016, the Mazzellas accused Sander of having inappropriately touched an underage female family member.
On Friday, prosecutors presented evidence to show that Sander committed the murders — including video fo Sander describing how he did it step-by-step.
One of the more intense things that happened during closing arguments on Friday was when prosecutors fired several rounds of blank shotgun cartridges to show how Sander had to pump the gun to shoot each one of the shells that they say killed three members of the Mazzella family.
His Mossberg 800 holds eight shells at a time which means he had to reload in order to shoot through a door three times and then hit the victims with seven shells.
Sander’s attorney didn’t deny that he did it, but said he wants jurors to focus on why Sander did it.
Attorney Jon Manning spoke for more than an hour and told the jury that tensions and anger fueled his client’s actions. He asked them to remember the angriest they’d ever been and said that that memory would be important to remember as they try to understand Sander’s mindset.
“It doesn’t have to be in lack of passion, it just has to be that he understood what he was doing. He can describe the feeling. He hated them. It’s not rage in this case, it’s revenge,” said Manning.
Jurors deliberated for about an hour on Friday before heading home for the weekend.