Brothers Get Death Penalty for Killing 5

New York Times/March 12, 2005

Martinez, Calif. -- Two brothers were sentenced to death Friday for killing the daughter of blues guitarist Elvin Bishop and four others as part of a quasi-religious extortion plot five years ago.

Judge Mary Ann O'Malley sentenced Glenn Taylor Helzer, 34, and Justin Helzer, 33, in separate hearings, following the recommendations of the two juries that had earlier voted for the death penalty for both brothers.

The brothers and their roommate, Dawn Godman, killed five people, including 22-year-old Selina Bishop, during a plot to extort $100,000. Glenn Helzer, a former stockbroker, wanted to use the money to start a self-help group he believed would thwart Satan by spreading peace and love.

Bishop's mother, Jennifer Villarin, 45, and Villarin's companion, James Gamble, 54, were shot to death because Glenn Helzer feared they would report the extortion.

Also killed were Ivan Stineman, 85, and his wife, Annette, 78, the targets of the extortion plot.

Godman agreed to testify for the prosecution in exchange for a sentence of 38 years to life.

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