California Supreme Court will not hear convicted Virginia man’s appeal in connection with death of a Phoenix investor, who was lured to Dana Point and murdered out at sea

By Andrea Papagianis

The state’s highest court has denied review of an appeal by a Virginia man convicted of luring a 71-year-old retired software businessman to Dana Point, killing him and disposing of his body out at sea for financial gain.

Gary A. Shawkey, 50, Mechanicsville, Va., was found guilty in June 2011, on felony counts of special circumstances murder for financial gain and grand theft. Shawkey was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole that year for luring Robert Vendrick, of Phoenix, onto a boat under the false pretense of discussing a secret investment deal with the federal government.

Deputy district attorneys prosecuting the case argued that Shawkey stole approximately $1.2 million from Vendrick, for fake investments with a promise of high returns.

Prosecutors said as Vendrick became reluctant, Shawkey persuaded him to invest in a new venture developing top-secret computer software. Vendrick wired Shawkey $100,000 and flew to Orange County to meet federal agents and finalize the project.

In February 2008, the two arrived in Southern California, where Shawkey purchased a 23-foot sailboat. Shawkey was accused of convincing Vendrick to sail to San Clemente Island to meet federal agents. The pair sailed out of Dana Point Harbor and the victim was never seen again.

The California Supreme Court reached the decision last week, after judges with the 4th District Court of Appeals affirmed Shawkey’s conviction in September.

Shawkey is serving out his sentence at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego. Vendrick’s body has never been recovered.

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