An unusual murder trial is underway in Orange County, in which the body of the victim has never been found.
Orange County prosecutors say 47-year old Gary Shawkey is a con man who stole a million dollars from Phoenix retiree Robert Vendrick and then killed him and dumped his body off a sailboat in February 2008.
During opening arguments Tuesday, the deputy DA showed jurors surveillance video of the two men at Dana Point Harbor, boarding Shawkey’s 23-foot sailboat, the Odyssey.
Prosecutors say Vendrick had told friends, the two were headed to San Clemente Island to finalize a mult-million dollar government contract for a top secret computer software program. He was never seen again.
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When Shawkey’s boat turned up in Long Beach, it was missing an engine and anchor. When questioned by police, Shawkey later claimed, Vendrick didn’t want to ride all the way to Catalina on his small sailboat, so he dropped him off in Dana Point so he can catch a shuttle boat.
Shawkey says he got worried when Vendrick didn’t show up in Catalina, and so he left a series of messages on his phone. Prosecutors said he was setting up an alibi.
Shawkey says he went looking for Vendrick and even found him alive in Mexico, but Shawkey said Vendrick wouldn’t come home and simply wanted to disappear.