By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Darlene suffered a fractured skull, deep lacerations, and bruises all over her body. She wasn't able to give a statement from her hospital bed for three days, but then gave police a complete account, including Mark Goudeau's name and address.
Darlene alleged that Goudeau battered her with the shotgun in the apartment, banged her head against a barbell repeatedly, and then hurled her into the tub, where he turned on the water and tried to drown her. (The police later found blood evidence around the apartment that corroborated part of her account.)
Somehow, Darlene was able to flee half-naked into the apartment parking lot with Goudeau in pursuit.
Police arrested Goudeau, and their reports show that he suggested at first that he and Darlene had consensual sex and were about to take a bath when two unknown men (one of them armed with an Uzi submachine gun) entered the apartment and beat her up before leaving.
He said he helped Darlene outside and was about to drive her to her grandmother's home for help when the mystery men returned and resumed beating her.
Scared, he said, he retreated to the apartment until the men again took their leave.
A quote from the Phoenix police report adds irony to the situation: "He said that he tries to avoid women like [Darlene]."
As for Darlene, a court pre-sentencing officer wrote of her close call, "She felt that she was in a room with the devil."
Darlene's account would have great similarities to that in one of the Baseline Killer murders. Sophia Nuñez was the only one of the 2005-06 victims who personally knew Goudeau. She was shot to death from close range in a bathtub at her west Phoenix home on April 10, 2006. Nuñez's 8-year-old son found her body in the overflowing tub when he returned from school.
Best evidence against Goudeau in the Nuñez case: Analysts detected his DNA profile on one of her breasts. The bullet that lodged in her head matched the ammo recovered from the other murder victims, and it was fired from the same gun. Goudeau had known Nuñez socially — they spoke more than 300 times by cell phone in 2005 — and he knew where she lived.
By rights, Goudeau should have been looking at a minimum of a few decades in prison after his vicious attack on Darlene — specifically in light of what happened next.
But it didn't play out that way.
What happened was a series of egregious mistakes by those in control of Goudeau's freedom.
First, a deputy county attorney allowed Goudeau to plead to three counts of aggravated assault, but with a stipulation that allegations of "dangerousness" would be dropped at sentencing against this defendant who practically had killed a woman.
That allowed Goudeau to be eligible for probation.
A deal with the devil, as one of the Baseline Killer detectives later put it.
Then came this remarkable turn of events:
On August 10, 1990, mere weeks before his sentencing, Mark Goudeau robbed a Fry's Supermarket on 30th Street and Thomas Road.
It was the same store that, years later, he falsely told the woman in the VW Bug that he just had robbed.
Goudeau held up two female store clerks with a silver handgun, not unlike the weapon described much later by many of his victims.
"If you know what's good for you, you'll come with me," he told one of the women, pointing the gun at her head.
The women did as they were told, leaving the store briefly with their assailant, who had grabbed more than $500 in a brown paper bag.
Goudeau fled in his Datsun 280-Z without harming the women, but passersby alerted police to the make, model, and license plate of the vehicle. Investigators soon tracked him down.
Back in custody, Goudeau denied everything, even though police found the paper bag with the Fry's money in it at his apartment.
Remember, Goudeau still was facing sentencing for the severe beating of Darlene.
These days, prison sentences for the separate assault and armed robbery cases would be longer and stacked atop each other.
But not in this case.
First, Judge Coulter sentenced Goudeau to the maximum, under the sweetheart plea bargain, of 15 years in prison on the assault case, of which he would have to serve at least 10.
But prosecutor James Blomo (and, presumably, his supervisor) then crafted a truly soft plea bargain. He agreed to a no-contest plea (the same effect as a guilty plea) to armed robbery and kidnapping and in such a way that Goudeau would only have to serve the equivalent of about four additional years in prison, or about 14 years total with good behavior.
Shortly before his January 1991 sentencing on the Fry's robbery, Goudeau told a presentencing officer that he had smoked crack cocaine before a pal gave him the idea of robbing a store.
"The next thing the defendant knew was, he was at the store with a gun, which he indicates was not real," the officer dutifully wrote. "He states that he is tired of lying and realizes that he has a drug problem and needs help."