LIMA — After three days of trial, Michelle Alves of Lima was found guilty early Thursday evening of murdering Charles and Tarissa Sanders.
Alves, 32, showed little emotion as the sentencing came down and did not turn around as the family of Tarissa Sanders addressed her with their victim impact statements.
“Your fate will be the same as the fate you bestowed on Tarissa and Charles and my family,” Tarissa’s mother, Diana Ross, said to Alves. “They will never get to experience Christmas or birthdays. Tarissa will never get to do that with her children, Charles will never get to do that with (Tarissa’s) children, you will never get to do that with your children.”
Ross went on to say that she forgives Alves to help find her own peace.
“I forgive you, Michelle, but the forgiveness is for me, and is also because my lord, my God asks us to do that,” Ross said. “I will continue to pray for you, I will pray for your salvation. It would just be nice to know that you’re sorry that you did this.”
The sentencing comes after three long days of hearing evidence, with the final witnesses being brought in on Thursday morning.
Before closing arguments were made, the court watched part of Alves’ interview with Lima Police Department Detectives Sean Neidermeier and Steve Stechschulte from July 2, 2020, right after she and her boyfriend, Clinton Owens Jr., were apprehended by U.S. Marshals in Las Vegas.
During the interview, Alves confessed to shooting and killing Charles and Tarissa Sanders after Sanders allegedly stole a firearm from Owens. Alves also said she had her house broken into and had guns stolen from her on more than one occasion in the past.
“I didn’t mean to kill them,” Alves told the detectives during the interview. “It was just all so much at once and I was just so tired of everybody stealing from me.”
Alves’ public defender, Steve Chamberlain, argued that Alves’ was acting in self-defense when she shot Charles Sanders because he made a sudden movement when she confronted him about the stolen gun. No self-defense argument was made in the case of Tarissa Sanders, who was shot seconds later.
Ultimately, the jury reviewed the evidence and found that Alves did not act in self-defense and ruled her guilty of both counts of murder. Judge Jeffrey Reed ruled that both sentences be served consecutively, meaning Alves will spend a minimum of 36 years in prison. Each count of murder came with a sentence of 15 years to life in prison, plus a three year minimum firearm specification for both counts, adding another six years to her sentence.