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Man receives 12-year sentence in death of Yuba City doctor

A Sebastopol man convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the death of a Yuba City physician was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison — half of the maximum he faced.

Sutter County Judge Brian Aronson said all the facts in the "unusual and salacious" case may never be known. But evidence indicated Jeffrey Wayne Clay, 50, went to the apartment of his girlfriend, Sarah Garibay, on Sept. 3 and found her with physician Hyo Seoung Shin, then beat him.

Both men were described in court as Garibay's "sugar daddies."

Aronson said he believed Clay pistol-whipped the 64-year-old Shin, who attempted to escape by going over the balcony of Garibay's second-floor apartment. Injuries from the fall killed him, a forensic pathologist testified.

Shin was found hours later, bleeding to death from internal injuries.

While in Sutter County Jail, Clay solicited a fellow inmate to kill Garibay, who would later testify in court that he beat Shin.

A key piece of evidence, Aronson said, was the testimony of Clay's friend that he and Clay drove by the Shasta Street apartment later that night when police were there. Clay told the friend that he had "slapped somebody up" there and "beat the (expletive) out of him," the judge said.

Shin and Clay did not know about each other. Shin, an anesthesiologist, had been seeing Garibay for about 18 months after meeting her at a Linda strip club. Clay, a construction supervisor who was in town working on Yuba City's new water storage tank at Lincoln and Sanborn roads, had not been with her as long, according to testimony.

Because she was the victim in the murder solicitation case, Garibay spoke in court before Clay was sentenced.

"I am not a prostitute," Garibay said, and Clay was not her sugar daddy.

"I loved him immensely" and never felt safer than when she was with him, Garibay said.

She apologized for her "web of sex and lies" and her role in the events that led to Shin's death.

"I failed Dr. Shin. I'll take that to my grave," Garibay said.

As for Clay, she was hurt by his attempt to "snuff out" her life, she said.

"I hope he works on his dark soul" while in prison, Garibay said.

Clay's attorney, Kim Ryan, said Garibay lied in court about Clay beating Shin, referring to her as "a hooker." State criminologists found none of Shin's blood in the apartment, she pointed out.

Deputy District Attorney Cameron King said someone apparently cleaned up the apartment before police entered. Shin's shoes — he was found without them — were never located, and neither was the gun that Garibay said Clay used to beat Shin.

Garibay was arrested on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact, but the charge was dropped. She was given immunity to testify.

A rectangular dent in the top of Shin's head corroborated Garibay's testimony that Clay beat Shin with the butt of the gun, the judge said.

King said Clay lied from the beginning, calling him a "cold, calculating and menacing person who cares only about himself." He never showed remorse for Shin's death, he said.

And Ryan never showed why Garibay would lie about Clay's actions, King said.

Appearing as character witnesses for Clay were his son, wife and ex-wife. All portrayed him as hard-working and nonviolent.

The wife, Jodie Clay, told King she still wants Clay to come home despite learning that he was seeing Garibay, in addition to another woman, and was using methamphetamine. Police found the drug on Clay when he was arrested.

"This takes the cake," Jodie Clay said.

After the sentencing, Clay's mother, Joan Clay, said, "That five-star girl walked," referring to Garibay.

The sentence could have been much longer, she acknowledged.

"Are we pleased? No," Jodie Clay said.

Jodie Clay was briefly charged along with her son of intimidating Clay's roommate, a witness in the case, and spent a night in jail. The charge eventually was dropped.

Shin's wife did not attend, but her victim impact statement was read to the court. She stated her husband had "a high moral standard and would not stand for one speck of immorality."

"I don't believe any of these accusations," she wrote.

As a Christian, she said, she forgives Clay.

Aronson called the statements by family members on both sides "unhappy families portraying themselves as happy families" and reminiscent of the opening line of Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina:" "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Shin should not have died, the judge said, but Clay made decisions that set in motion the chain of events that led to his death.

CONTACT reporter Rob Young at 749-4784.

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