Jury selection under way in Rohnert Park guitar maker murder trial

  • Taku Sakashita (COURTESY PHOTO)

Preparations continued Tuesday for the trial of a Sonoma County man accused of murdering a Rohnert Park guitar maker.

Prosecutors and the lawyer for Joshua Rhea Begley, 29, of Sonoma County, were selecting a jury and opening statements could come in a matter of days.

Begley is charged with killing Taku Sakashita, 43, at his workshop on Feb. 11. He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, robbery, burglary and evading police.

Sakashita, a Japanese native, built acoustic and electric guitars for musicians, including Boz Scaggs and Robben Ford. Some of his instruments sold for up to $35,000.

His body was found outside his Martin Avenue business Feb. 12. An autopsy revealed he died of stab wounds to his head, neck, chest and hand.

Begley, who has a long criminal history, was arrested three days later at his girlfriend's Rohnert Park apartment after fleeing a traffic stop. He had been arrested days before by Petaluma police but escaped using a handcuff key hidden in his mouth.

At Begley's preliminary hearing, witnesses put Begley close to the workshop at the time of the killing. Detectives said they recovered a knife and gloves that belonged to him. Police believe he may have been attacked as he talked on the phone to someone in Japan.

Witnesses at trial could include Japanese residents, prosecutor Tashawn Sanders said.

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