Sonoma man in barrel murder sentenced to state prison

A Sonoma man who bludgeoned another man to death, shoved his body in a barrel and dumped it in front of City Hall was sentenced Tuesday to 36 years to life in state prison.Christopher Michael McNatt, 42, received the punishment in the slaying of Ronald Gordon...

Sonoma man in barrel murder sentenced to state prison

A Sonoma man who bludgeoned another man to death, shoved his body in a barrel and dumped it in front of City Hall was sentenced Tuesday to 36 years to life in state prison.

Christopher Michael McNatt, 42, received the punishment in the slaying of Ronald Gordon Sauvageau, 64 of Cazadero, at a Boyes Hot Springs trailer park in 2015.

Evidence at trial showed McNatt beat the older man with a hammer after the two fought in the yard of a mutual friend, Donald Gene Arrasmith, 69.

Prosecutors said Arrasmith helped McNatt load Sauvageau’s body into a plastic barrel, which McNatt dropped in front of the city building on Sonoma’s historic central plaza.

He was arrested the same night as he drove away in his pickup.

In a taped confession, he admitted killing Sauvageau with the hammer to end the fight. And he said he disposed of the body in a public place because he didn’t want to appear “devious or sneaky.”

His lawyers argued the confession was coerced. McNatt recanted parts of his statement from the witness stand, saying Sauvageau “went limp” while the two were fighting.

He suggested Arrasmith or someone else dealt the fatal blows while he was away at McDonald’s.

Jurors found him guilty of second-degree murder.

Arrasmith was charged with being an accessory and is awaiting trial.

At McNatt’s sentencing, Sauvageau’s sister, Wendy Hanson, told him justice would be served “when you meet the devil on your death bed.”

“May you rot in jail until then,” Hanson said.

McNatt, who stared back at Hanson, did not make a statement before he was led away by deputies.

He received double the punishment from Judge Peter Ottenweller because of his prior prison record.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ppayne.

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