Man receives life for hate attacks: The Fair Oaks resident committed two racially motivated assaults

Sacramento Bee/September 22, 2001
By Ramon Coronado

Described as a scapegoat by his lawyer and a racist monster by his victims, Joshua Mark Gilmore was sentenced Friday to two life terms in prison for two racially motivated attempted murders.

The 25-year-old Fair Oaks man, found guilty in July of the crimes by a Sacramento Superior Court jury, also was convicted under a special enhancement used for street gangs to invoke tougher sentences. In this case, the jury said his hate crimes were committed to benefit the local chapter of the World Church of the Creator, a white supremacist organization. He will be 40 before he is eligible for parole.

Gilmore showed a range of emotion as a half-dozen people spoke during the two-hour sentencing hearing. He cried when his mother talked about her son not being able to hold his 11-month-old daughter.

He sneered when his prosecutor described his "ignorant belief in superiority." He chuckled when the judge proclaimed his two life sentences, knowing he can only serve one term.

Gilmore, whose arms, chest and back are covered with neo-Nazi tattoos, was convicted of the July 3, 1997, beating of Jeff Almon, 16. Almon was mistaken for a member of an anti-racist skinhead group and severely beaten. The Del Campo High School student was in a coma for five of the 15 days he was hospitalized.

Gilmore also was convicted for the mob attack of Andrew Harris, 22, at a now-defunct Citrus Heights cafe four months after the Almon assault. Ten men swarmed Harris after also mistaking him for a rival skinhead member. Harris, who was stabbed 20 times, lost the use of his left lung. Although Gilmore had accomplices, some agreed to testify against him in state court.

Richard Molinare and James Merrill, both 23, were charged in federal court with firebombing a Fair Oaks apartment building. Merrill received 51 months in federal prison and Molinare received an eight-year sentence. Molinare, who admitted throwing most of the blows in the Almon beating, is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in state court to nine years for his role in that case.

"It is wrong to put my client in prison for the rest of his life when others who had the same involvement will be out in a few years," Gilmore's lawyer, Danny Williams, told the judge.

Judge Ronald B. Robie said he had nothing to do with the plea deals, but said he was struck by the age of Gilmore and his friends. "They were all kids. They met each other in high school," Robie said. "It was in high school that the seeds were sown for this tragedy."

In a letter to the judge, Almon wrote that his physical injuries have healed, but he still copes with psychological wounds. "Commonplace for me since my assault have been nightmares, paranoia, self-doubt, and trouble connecting with friends," he wrote.

His mother, Marlene Gerrard, said, sobbing, "Many days I drove home from work praying I wouldn't find him a victim of suicide." Gilmore's mother also cried as she pleaded for her son. "This is the land of second chances. My son deserves that opportunity," Robin Gilmore said.

Others talked about how Gilmore was a victim of associating with the wrong crowd. Williams said his client was wrongly suspected for hate crimes in Sacramento three years ago and is now a scapegoat for the terrorist attacks in New York and outside Washington, D.C., a week ago.

"Society wanted a scapegoat for the burning of the synagogue bombings back then and society today wants a scapegoat for what happened last week," he said.

Deputy District Attorney Scott Divine read from a white supremacist book found in Gilmore's home and said Gilmore "marketed himself as a billboard for hate," noting his tattoos.

Gilmore remained silent during sentencing, but he did write a letter read by his attorney. "The only thing fair about life is that life is unfair to everybody," Gilmore wrote.

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