The California Supreme Court refused this week to hear the case of a parolee convicted of gunning down a mother of five during a robbery at a South Los Angeles discount store.
Eric William Atkinson, now 37, was convicted in January 2018 of first-degree murder, dissuading a witness and possession of a firearm by a felon in connection with the Sept. 17, 2013, killing of Martha Sanchez at the Happy Bargain 99-cent store in the 7400 block of Broadway, where she worked as a clerk.
Jurors also found true the special-circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a robbery, along with an allegation that he personally and intentionally discharged a firearm and caused great bodily injury and death.
“This shooting was, in the court’s opinion, a very gratuitous and senseless act,’’ Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry said in sentencing Atkinson to life in prison without the possibility of parole in February 2018. “This is an extremely sad case given the acts that were committed by the defendant.’’
Sanchez, a married 39-year-old mother whose children ranged in age from 3 to 19 years old at the time of her death, was shot several times, even though she did not resist.
A store surveillance camera captured the fatal shooting and images showing the gunman from behind were released to the public as investigators sought a suspect.
Atkinson—who lived within a quarter-mile of the store—was on parole at the time of the shooting. He had been convicted in 2003 of attempted robbery and was already in custody for a parole violation when he was arrested on the murder charge about three weeks after the killing.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office opted not to seek the death penalty against Atkinson.