Jonathan Sander found guilty of first-degree murder for deaths of 3 Wake County neighbors

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A jury unanimously found a Wake County man guilty Monday in the deaths of three of his neighbors in 2016.

The jury deliberated for less than two days in the case, putting an end to the emotional trial.

The trial began Monday, March 25 with Jonathan Sander refusing to stay quiet. He shouted from the defendant's table that he was innocent, and instead pinned the killings on Sal Mazzella.

As Sal left the courtroom after the verdict had been read, Sander yelled: "Have a good day, Sal."



The judge warned Sander against outbursts like that because they can be used against him in the sentencing phase of his trial--which will begin Tuesday morning.

"Put me to death; that's what is happening anyway. I was framed. That's the way it is," Sander replied to the judge.



As for the trial, the evidence that may have been the most compelling against Sander was his taped confession. In it, he explained to investigators why and how he killed Sandy, Stephenie and Elaine Mazzella with a shotgun in March 2016.

Sander's defense team spent its time trying to convince the jury that the killings were not premeditated.

The jurors will return to court Tuesday morning to begin hearing evidence in the sentencing phase of the trial. Sander is eligible to receive the death penalty.

Friday, April 5, Sander's defense team called several witnesses--including Sander's wife--to speak to Sander's state of mind at the time of the murders.Sander himself did not testify as was previously thought.

Thursday, April 4, prosecutors finished playing Sander's confession tape and wrapped up their case; Sander's defense team started calling witnesses

Wednesday, April 3, prosecutors unleashed their strongest piece of evidence yet: Sander himself confessing to the murders.

Tuesday, April 2, a bevy of witnesses testified about Sander's drinking habits, relationship with the victims, and his actions the days before the murders.

Monday, April 1, childhood trauma experts testified that Mazzellases' daughter, who was 14 at the time of the killings and is now 17, reported in the days before the crime that Sander had molested her. The experts said the daughter had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Friday, March 29: Tears fell as witnesses and friends testified about the victims of the murders

Thursday, March 28: Jurors see gruesome but critical evidence in the case

Wednesday, March 27: Dashcam audio recorded Sander saying he was 'a dead man' shortly after the murders

Tuesday, March 26: Jurors heard 911 calls from the night of the murders

Monday, March 25: Sander has to be escorted out of the courtroom following a dramatic outburst.
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