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Man sentenced in killing of autistic guard

August 28, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Long Beach man pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the murder of a security guard who suffered from high-functioning autism. Sean Christopher Hodge, 29, was sentenced on Friday to 11 years in state prison.

On Sept. 14, 2007, prosecutors said Hodge broke into a storage facility at a construction site for Cottonwood Church in Cypress. He, along with Joseph Zimmer, 22, wanted to steal expensive welding equipment. Hodge had worked on the construction site but had been fired from his job four months before.

Authorities said while the two men were stealing the equipment, security guard Michael Garry, 51, tried to talk to them. Garry suffered from Asperger Syndrome which is a high-functioning form of autism.

Hodge was able to distract Garry as Zimmer punched him and hit him with a blunt object. Garry was knocked unconscious and later died at the hospital from wounds to his head.

Investigators linked Hodge and Zimmer to the crime through fingerprints. In Oct. 2009, Zimmer was found guilty of murder by a jury. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Hodge testified at his trial.