OAKLAND (CBS SF) – A 35-year-old man was sentenced Thursday to 26 years to life in state prison for the bludgeoning and stabbing death of his former lover two and a half years ago.
Sean Rooney was convicted of first-degree murder earlier this month for the death of 54-year-old John Frum at Frum’s apartment complex at 3149 Brookdale Ave. in Oakland’s Dimond District on Dec. 1, 2009.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner Thursday called the attack “savage” and said “it’s clear that his intent was to kill because he assaulted the victim with a variety of weapons.”
Prosecutor Mas Morimoto said Frum and Rooney had had a relationship after meeting through Craigslist, but had broken up nine months before Frum was killed.
He said Rooney attacked Frum three days after he read a posting on Craiglist that he had assumed was about him even though no names were used.
In the posting, an unidentified person had warned people about a man he said was “a smart ass” and took advantage of people, Morimoto said.
The prosecutor said Rooney was upset about the posting and went to Frum’s apartment, smashed his car and window and attacked him with a mallet, a smaller knife and then a larger 9-inch knife.”
Rooney’s lawyer, Susan Farrow, admitted to jurors in her closing argument that Rooney killed Frum but said he should only be convicted of voluntary manslaughter because he killed Frum in the heat of passion and was under the influence of alcohol and the antidepressant drug Zoloft.
However, Morimoto told jurors that Rooney “had time to think about his decision” and alleged that Rooney acted with premeditation and deliberation because the attack occurred three days after Rooney read the posting.
He said that if Rooney had only intended to injure Frum and not kill him, he would have stopped after he had hit Frum with a mallet seven times, and wouldn’t have then stabbed him 15 times.
Morimoto said, “He didn’t just want to injure him, he wanted to kill him.”
At Thursday’s hearing, the Rev. Victor Floyd of the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco said Frum “was truly a good man” who helped him and his partner, who is blind, by walking their dog and shopping for them.
“He was our closest friend, and his death has left a painful hole in our family,” Floyd said.
Floyd criticized Farrow for portraying Frum as “depraved” during the trial, calling the defense’s tactics “dishonest, immoral and wrong.”
He said, “I’m personally offended by this wrongful portrayal of our friend.”
Floyd said, “We had advised John to get a restraining order against Mr. Rooney because we could sense his rage.”
Floyd said he is upset that the last words Frum heard before he died were Rooney saying, “I hope you die.”
Farrow asked Thursday that Rooney only be placed on probation because he had no prior criminal record and had no history of violence.
But Horner said probation would be inappropriate because of the nature of the attack and because he believes Rooney clearly intended to kill Frum.
“He did exactly what he said he wanted to do,” Horner said.
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