Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Murder in Sonoma

This morning, I drove to Bonneau's to meet a co-worker who needed a ride to work after dropping her car off for repairs. Arriving early, around 7:30 am, I walked down Bonneau Street to take pictures of the hills as photography is a hobby and I always keep my camera with me. While standing alongside the road, a car pulled up behind me and the driver said, "Excuse me. I'm from the Press Democrat. Are those those binoculars? Do you see the police?"

Confused by his questions, I shrugged my shoulders and said, "No this is a camera. There is one police car in the parking lot there", as I pointed to Bonneau's gas station where a sheriff deputy was sitting in his car. But the driver, drove on down Bonneau Road away from the gas station.

I walked back to my truck to wait and while sitting there, another sheriff deputy arrived (photo below). The first deputy took what looked like a gun case out of his trunk and gave it to the other deputy who put it in his truck. After a brief chat, they went their separate ways.

Then tonight, as I read tragic and sad article below and looked on mapquest for the address (photo below), I realized, this was what the driver/reporter was referring to!

May the Lord bring comfort and healing to this hurting family I pray.

Here are my photos and then the article:

Grandson arrested in the murder of his grandfather



Published: Wednesday, May 21, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 21, 2008 at 5:16 p.m

Crime scene
MARK ARONOFF/The Press Democrat
Crime scene investigators go over a Bonneau Road home in Schellville where an elderly man was killed Tuesday night.

A 20-year-old Chico man was arrested Wednesday for the alleged murder of his grandfather, a longtime Sonoma-area man who died just hours shy of his 78th birthday.

Robert Ferris Deming was shot and killed at his Bonneau Road home near Schellville on Tuesday night in what may have been a bid for money, though investigators were still trying to pin down a motive Wednesday afternoon, sheriff’s Lt. Rob Giordano said.

Deming’s grandson, Sean Patrick Mooney, was arrested Wednesday morning, suspected of shooting his grandfather in the back of the head with a shotgun at close range in what Giordano called a pre-planned slaying.

He was booked and held without bail in Sonoma County Jail.

“It’s a terrible case, terrible case,” Giordano said. “Just sad.”

It was Mooney, whose parents have been living on the property, who first reported the shooting on the small family ranch near Arnold Drive and Highway 121 at 9:21 p.m. Tuesday, the Sheriff’s Department said.

He told authorities he was in a camper shell in the driveway, where he was staying the night, and that two armed men pulled up in a car, ran inside and shot Deming, then drove off, Giordano said.

But parts of his story were not consistent with the evidence, and as investigators looked more closely at Mooney it appeared he was their suspect, Giordano said.

Detectives later recovered a shotgun from the residence, Giordano said.

Deming’s son, Dave Deming, said his father had lived on the property for 34 years. He lost his wife, Turley Deming, to cancer five years ago.

A neighbor, Nadya Clark, said Deming had recently been in ill health.

His daughter, a Chico resident, and her husband had been living with him to help care for him, she said. It apparently was their son, Mooney, who was arrested Wednesday, Giordano said.

Mooney’s parents had come to the scene shortly after the shooting was reported and cooperated with investigators, Giordano said.

Dave Deming said in the hours before the arrest that family members were completely bewildered and horrified.

“It’s a bad one,” Dave Deming said. “I don’t know what’s going on.”

“Why would anyone want to kill Robert?” Clark asked Wednesday. “He was getting frail. It just seems so wanton.”

Another neighbor who lived in one of two rental homes neighboring Deming’s own yellow house said he was just “a nice old man.”

“He was a wonderful man,” said the woman, who declined to give her name. “He was like a father to us.”

She and her husband said someone from the sheriff’s office knocked on their door late Tuesday, asking if they’d seen or heard anything, “and we hadn’t,” the woman said.

Clark described the small, rural lane through grassy fields and vineyards south of Sonoma as quiet and safe.

Only a handful of houses line Bonneau Road, all but a couple located on the south side facing a wide-open landscape to the north that includes the Schug Carneros Estate vineyards.

Departing from the junction of highways 121 and 116, the road heads toward grass-covered mountains and Merten’s Dairy.

The road was closed for much of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning while detectives collected evidence.

--- end ---

5/24/08 UPDATE

Sean Patrick Mooney and defense attorney Chris Andrian made their first court appearance Friday in the shooting death of Robert Ferris Deming, Mooney's grandfather

Grandson enters no plea in shooting

Charged in shotgun slaying of grandfather in Schellville


Published: Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 4:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 24, 2008 at 9:51 a.m.


Sean Patrick Mooney, accused in the fatal shooting of his grandfather Tuesday night, signaled a thumbs-up to his parents and managed a hint of a sad smile as he made his first court appearance in the case Friday.

Shackled at the waist and clad in a navy blue jail suit, Mooney, 20, was charged Friday with suspicion of murder with four special allegations, including personal use of a shotgun, elder abuse and two enhancements, as well as receipt of a stolen shotgun.

He was being held without bail in the death of his grandfather, 77-year-old Robert Ferris Deming, who was shot at the Schellville house Deming had called home for the past 34 years.

"The family doesn't wish to make a statement at this time," his mother, identified by neighbors as Susan Mooney, said outside the courtroom.

"We're in a lot of pain. You can say that," she said.

Mooney's family is not unaccustomed to the trauma of violence.

His cousin, Christopher Ferris Deming, 28, was shot and killed during a botched robbery at a friend's home outside Novato eight years ago.

Chris Deming, a 1989 Sonoma Valley High School graduate, was the son of Dave Deming, who runs a demolition company out of his home across the highway from where his father was shot dead Tuesday.

Mooney's family was attempting Friday to hire defense lawyer Chris Andrian to represent Mooney, who was charged in the case but delayed entering a plea until Thursday.

Andrian appeared with him Friday but said he had not decided whether to take the case.

He said he hadn't talked to Mooney at any length and didn't know much about the case, having just been called by family members the night before.

Neighbors of Robert Deming along Bonneau Road in Schellville, south of Sonoma, said his daughter and her husband, Patrick Mooney, live in Chico but had been staying with Deming when he was ill recently.

Sean Mooney, also of Chico, was the only one home Tuesday night, when Deming, hours away from his 78th birthday, was shot in the back of the head at close range with a 12-gauge shotgun as he sat in a chair watching TV, authorities said.

Mooney called for help at 9:21 p.m., saying his grandfather had just been shot, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department said.

He told investigators he was in a camper in the driveway when two armed men drove up to the yellow house, ran into the house, shot Deming, then drove away.

But portions of his story didn't jibe with the evidence, and investigators were soon eyeing Mooney as a suspect, authorities said.

Detectives also recovered the shotgun from the scene, one official said.

Sheriff's Lt. Rob Giordano, who oversees investigations for the department, later said Mooney had planned out the shooting and had recently acquired a stolen shotgun for the job.

Giordano said Mooney acquired the gun in the Chico area, though precisely when was not immediately clear.

He also said Friday the motive appeared to have something to do with money.

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or

August 4, 2009 UPDATE

Thu 7/30/09 6 PM
Jury: Mooney guilty of killing his grandfather

By Bill Hoban

A Sonoma County jury deliberated between five and six hours Friday before finding Sean Patrick Mooney guilty of first degree murder in the Sonoma shooting of his grandfather, Robert Deming, in May 2008.

The jury found Mooney, 21, guilty of first degree murder with enhancements for the use of a gun and murder for financial gain, which means, by statute, Mooney will receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Mooney will be sentenced on Aug. 21. He was also convicted on charges of abuse of an elder and receiving stolen property. Traci Carrillo, lead prosecutor, in the case for the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office, said that after the killing, Mooney told two different stories, one to the police and another to his mother.

The night of the killing, Mooney told sheriff's deputies that he was outside the house in a camper when he heard a car drive up, two men get out and go into the house. He told the deputies that he heard a gun blast and then saw the two men running out of the house, get back into their car and leave the Bonneau Road residence.

Later, he told his mother that the shooting was an accident. Carrillo said that Mooney told his mother that his grandfather handed him the gun and told him there was a lot of life insurance money. Mooney said he was walking out of the room when he saw his grandfather reach for something so, with the shotgun in hand and his finger on the trigger, Mooney jumped over a bed and said the gun went off accidentally when he was two-to-four-feet behind his grandfather.

"The evidence didn't bear this out," Carrillo said. She said the shotgun was two-to-four-inches from Deming's head when he was shot. "He (Deming) was sitting upright in the chair with his hands resting in his lap," Carrillo said.

Carrillo said that Mooney was broke, had no job, was living rent-free in a home in Chico that his parents owned and, three days before the shooting, he found out his girlfriend was pregnant.

"About a month before (the shooting) he (Mooney) had a garage sale at his house in Chico," Carrillo said. She said he was selling fixtures from off the wall and even sold a piano.

"But he went through the money quickly," she added. "He told his parents he was going to go away to make a new start, but he spent all the money."

Carrillo said that before driving to Sonoma the morning of the shooting, Mooney sent his girlfriend into the store to buy shotgun shells while he sat in the car.

Carrillo said a witness who had been helping Deming do some sandblasting on the farm, left the farm at about 8:45 that evening.

The prosecutor said that Deming died sometime between 8:45 and 9:16 p.m. when Mooney called 9-1-1.

Mooney told deputies that night that he was in a camper when he heard a car drive up and later heard a shot.

Carrillo said that after shooting his grandfather, Mooney ran across the property some distance from the house before ejecting the spent shell casing. She said Mooney, after wiping down the shotgun, hid it and the shells on a trailer on the property. The shotgun had been stolen in Chico in 2007, and Mooney said he bought it from "some guy."

Mooney didn't testify during the trial.

Carrillo said that because of the enhancements, Mooney faces a mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole - and she said the sentence is by statute.

"We could have asked for the death penalty," she said.

COMMENTS wrote on Jul 28, 2009 2:22 AM:

" This is all rather unfortunate...I don;t agree with the sentence. This young man may be flawed. There must be a better answer as to how he should spend the rest of his life... " wrote on Jul 28, 2009 9:23 AM:

" "eratono" - What do you suggest then? I have an idea; why not bring back chain gangs? Put this guy on it and have him work off his debt to society for the rest of his life. This punk killed someone, his grandfather no less. Regardless of where you are brought up or what kind of homelife you have, it's always taught that killing someone is not okay. He wanted somewhere to live, and now he's got it, at our expense of course. " wrote on Jul 28, 2009 9:10 PM:

" eratono. Obviously there is someting wrong with the young man, what's wrong is that he is so callous about other people's lives he can't be allowed out into society. And on a personal note, I knew Bob Deming quite well and he was a decent ,hard working , honest man. Sean planned a murder, his grandfather, who had been nothing but kind to him. So make a suggestion about a "better answer". " wrote on Jul 29, 2009 5:54 AM:

" He is not a child. He is a man. A man who made a criminal choice. And he must have a consequence that brings justice to his grandfather's murder.

I can only imagine the pain of being Sean's parent. And the unearned guilt I would surely have as a parent who raised a child to be a man to make such a horrible, criminal choice.

I too have seen the suffering that murder brings to a family. Personally, I'm an eye for an eye kind of guy. " wrote on Jul 29, 2009 12:57 PM:

" Pretty much with you here Worth, you old wingnut. " wrote on Jul 30, 2009 4:21 PM:

" This man killed his grandfather in COLD BLOOD he should get life without parole. "


  1. That's really scary, I knew that guy.

    I'm glad I didn't piss him off.

  2. do any of you ever watch the movie devils advocate?
    1. accidents can happen if u don't believe it watch the video of a cop doing gun safety and ends up shooting his own foot in a class room

  3. He's so young. Can he be rehabilitated? I know you believe revenge is right...perhaps he didn't get proper guidance while growing up.

  4. my previous comments were not published by this site . I had several 'truths regarding this issue but this site did not care for the truth....

  5. @ Amy.
    It is obvious you had no real knowledge of Sean Mooney. Keep basing your opinions on what the Newspapers are fed by the prosecuters. Ignorance is forgivable but can be corrected. Please start questioning things you read, It's one heck of a education.

  6. Wow. so many opinions, not many facts. The prosecuter on this case was traci carrillo who was part of the old D A (Passalacqua) 'elite homicide squad' the forensic pathologist who testified was Kelly Arthur who co-owns the labs that were under contract at the time by Sonoma county. Arthur was under threat of prosecution for a D U I in lake county at the time of this case. Her testimony was crucial for the Sonoma county D A. D A passalacqua was under fire for a low conviction rate and his re-election was upon him. Coincidently Kelly arthur by some accounts was a personal friend of Passalacquas. I have not ever been able to find where Arthur was punished for the D U I incident.
    There was a whole team working together to convict young Mooney.
    Traci carrillo the prosecuter on this case personally called the past editor at the local sonoma newspaper and gave him the story of half-truths designed to destroy the true persona and history of young mooney. He really should have checked the true facts before pandering to the D A's offfice.
    judge gnoss, presiding on this case told the jury not to take into account that young mooney had almost $4 thousand dollars in a savings acct. Judge gnoss also disallowed all charachter witness's to testify on Mooneys's behalf and there were plenty who would have.... don't believe what you read without checking the unprinted facts. That why Snopes was created.

  7. I've come to mistrust most all news media, so your report sadly does not surprise me.

    1. I appreciate your reply. The story of young Mooney is one where the court never reached the truth. Horrifically, we live in a society where convictions are valued more than the truth.
      There was a juror on this trial who admitted she had been bullied by the others to convict Mooney.


About Me

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Over the years my opinions have changed but this will never change: Jesus Christ, Lord, God and Savior, died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay for my sin.