An ex-con was convicted Monday of first-degree murder in the death of a 39-year-old mother of five who was gunned down while working alone at a South Los Angeles discount store.
An 11-man, one-woman jury deliberated for less than three hours before finding Eric William Atkinson guilty of murder, as well as dissuading a witness and possession of a firearm by a felon in connection with the killing of Martha Sanchez on Sept. 17, 2013.
The defense did not present a case to the jury, which also found true a special circumstance allegation of murder committed during a robbery, as well as an allegation of use of a firearm causing great bodily injury.
Prosecutors decided earlier not to seek the death penalty for Atkinson, who will be be sentenced Feb. 9 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The 35-year-old defendant, who was on parole at the time of the shooting, sat quietly throughout the reading of the verdict.
Police said Atkinson lived within a quarter-mile of the Happy Bargain 99-cent store in the 7400 block of Broadway where Sanchez worked. The married 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 shooter's back were released to the public as investigators sought a suspect. Atkinson, who was convicted in 2003 of attempted robbery, was already in custody for a parole violation when he was re-arrested on the murder charge about three weeks after the killing.