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Simlick pleads guilty in 2010 double homicide
The family of Jack and Susan Martin cried softly on Wednesday afternoon as Joseph Hayden Simlick admitted killing the well-known Sutter couple in 2010.
Simlick, 23, cut a deal with the Sutter County District Attorney's Office and avoided the death penalty, but will spend the rest of his life behind bars without a chance for parole and no opportunity to appeal.
"This was the right, the just, the fair and the healing thing to do for everybody on both sides," said Jan David Karowsky, one of two defense attorneys representing Simlick.
The Martins died July 29, 2010, inside their home at 2255 Mulberry St. in Sutter. Prosecutors said Simlick repeatedly stabbed the couple with a 9-inch kitchen knife. Investigators said Simlick continued to stab Jack Martin even after the 46-year-old father of two was dead.
Afterward, authorities said, Simlick set the house on fire.
Wearing a lime green jail jumpsuit, Simlick pleaded guilty to two counts of premeditated first-degree homicide.
Judge Brian Aronson ordered Simlick to return to court Jan. 18 for sentencing in Sutter County Superior Court. He faces consecutive life sentences in prison.
Most of the Martins' family supported the plea bargain, said Jana McClung, assistant Sutter County district attorney. "Both the daughters, Kendall and Paige, were on board with the resolution," McClung said. "I think it's a good resolution and, hopefully, it helps them move on with their lives, at least as best they can."
Outside the courthouse, family members exchanged long, tearful hugs. Numerous relatives declined comment.
Some family members were angry that Simlick evaded a death sentence, including Jack Martin's younger sister, Natalie Owen.
"I was just hoping for justice," Owen said. "I was hoping for the death penalty."
Jack Martin's stepfather, Norm Sanders, was furious.
"I'd rather see a trial and let the people make the justification," he said.
As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped an arson charge and an unrelated battery case stemming from a fight Simlick had in jail. Prosecutors also dismissed a battery charge against Simlick involving the Martins' daughter, Kendall.
CONTACT Rob Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4785. Find him on Facebook at /ADcrimebeat or on