Meadow Vista man changes plea to guilty, faces life in prison, Placer County prosecutors say
A Meadow Vista man who was accused of fatally shooting a woman in 2019 has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, and is expected to serve 25 years to life in state prison, attorneys said.
Justin Anthony Rose, 30, pleaded guilty Aug. 6 to the murder of Sarah Rose, 23, in October 2019. Rose had originally pleaded not guilty and was set to stand trial last week, but the change in plea negated the trial. Rose now awaits sentencing on Sept. 20, according to Placer County Deputy District Attorney Lisa Botwinik.
Rose will be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison due to California mandatory sentencing requirements concerning first-degree murder cases, according to Jennifer Marie Ow, the Placer County prosecutor who handled the case. Rose would be eligible for parole after serving 25 years, per state guidelines. In actuality, Rose could be paroled after just 21 years due to Senate Bill 445, a recently enacted state statute aimed at granting parole to inmates over the age of 50, Ow said.
Ow said that it was unclear as to why the defendant changed his plea to guilty, foregoing the opportunity to potentially be cleared of the charges in his upcoming jury trial. Rose’s defense counsel, the Placer County Public Defender’s Office, could not be reached for comment.
Ow said the case’s resolution was a victory for her office, and more importantly a victory for the victim’s family. Ow said she was relieved they didn’t have to undergo a potentially excruciating trial in order to obtain justice for their loved one.
“In terms of how this case was resolved, it’s something we’re happy about, we’re happy for the victim’s family, that they didn’t have to go through the trial process, and also the risks that there are with a case in going to trial,” Ow said.
In October 2019, Rose was originally arrested and charged in connection with the shooting death of Sarah Rose, who authorities said had a dating relationship with the defendant at the time.
The common surname between the defendant and victim is coincidental and not a product of their relationship.
After Rose shot the victim with a rifle in the area of Christian Valley, he fled the scene in his vehicle, but was later apprehended in Nevada County after a Placer County detective successfully initiated a vehicle pursuit of the suspect.
Sarah Rose did not die immediately, but succumbed to her injuries from the shooting later that same day, authorities said.
The defendant pleaded not guilty after his arrest, but despite efforts by prosecutors to move forwards toward trial, the case ended up taking almost two years to reach a resolution, as the COVID-19 pandemic delayed virtually every criminal case proceeding in 2020.
In addition to the District Attorney’s Office, police and investigators who helped build the case against Rose deserve credit for their role in getting the conviction, Ow said.
“The investigation into this case by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, apprehending the suspect shortly after the shooting…and then you have the state Department of Justice conducting a forensic examination and finding the evidence needed to move forward with this case, there’s a lot of credit there,” she said.
Ow declined to comment as to Rose’s motive in the homicide, or about other evidence in the case, saying that her office will refrain from commenting on these matters until after the defendant is formally sentenced on Sept. 20.
Stephen Wyer is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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