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For Immediate Release

Santa Rosa Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for October 2022 Shooting of Two Near Union Hotel in Santa Rosa

SANTA ROSA, CA | December 14, 2023

Defendant Marcell Battiest, 29 years old of Santa Rosa, was sentenced Wednesday by Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Troye Shaffer to serve 65 years-to-life in prison after being convicted by a jury in September of two counts of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit robbery, shooting into an occupied vehicle, felon in possession of a firearm, committing a felony offense while out on bail, as well as another robbery from February of 2021. Battiest’s accomplice, Valerie Saenz, was sentenced in October to serve 9 years in state prison for her role as an accomplice.

During the sentencing hearing Judge Shaffer stated, “Two people were shot, almost fatally…but for the good Samaritans and the actions they took. This was a shooting of 2 people that weren’t even in the same proximity to one another.” Regarding Battiest’s statements post-conviction, the court noted, “a clear disconnect between [Battiest’s] statements and the evidence at the jury trial…and a complete denial of responsibility by Mr. Battiest.”

District Attorney Carla Rodriguez stated, “Mr. Battiest's behavior demonstrates a terrifying lack of conscience.  He robbed a woman of her purse at gunpoint, was arrested and charged, eventually posted bail, and less than a month later robbed two men, ruthlessly shooting each of them during the crime for no apparent reason.  While I am concerned that he will be eligible for parole at age 50, at least Sonoma County will be safer for the time that Mr. Battiest is in prison.”

On February 3, 2021, the first victim arrived home for the evening after working at her grandfather's restaurant.  As she exited her car, another vehicle pulled up beside her.  Mr. Battiest leaned out of the passenger window, brandished a handgun at her and demanded her purse. The victim threw her purse into the vehicle which then drove away from the scene. Mr. Battiest was eventually identified, arrested, and charged in a criminal complaint.  In October 2021, Mr. Battiest posted bail and was released from custody.   

In October 2022, while still out on bail for the first robbery, Mr. Battiest and Ms. Saenz conspired to rob a man that Ms. Saenz had known since middle school, who she knew had marijuana.  She arranged to purchase marijuana from him.  Prior to the robbery, Mr. Battiest texted Ms. Saenz that he would get a gun and that he was "excited."

On October 28, 2002, the intended victim drove with his friend to meet the defendants in Santa Rosa.  The two men parked across from the Union Hotel on Quigg, bringing approximately 30 pounds of marijuana with him to the meeting.

Both men had exited the vehicle.  Ms. Saenz approached on foot and told them that she was waiting for the buyer to arrive.  Mr. Battiest drove up into the parking lot and parked. He walked towards the victim's vehicle, told him to put the marijuana in the trunk, then shot him twice in the back with no known provocation.  The other victim immediately ran and got into the driver’s seat of his vehicle. Mr. Battiest walked around the vehicle to the driver's side, put the gun up to the partially opened window, and shot the second victim once in the neck at close range. Mr. Battiest and Ms. Saenz fled the scene, throwing the 9mm “ghost gun” used in the shooting out of the car before driving to a Motel 6 in Petaluma.

Both victims were taken to the hospital where they were treated for extensive injuries.  One of the victims, who testified during the trial from a wheelchair, stated in a letter to the court that, “After the crime, I have suffered both mentally and emotionally. I can’t even go out to play with my daughters because of my physical and emotional condition. [My daughters] still don’t understand why dad can’t play with them.”

Despite being sentenced to an indeterminate "life" term, Mr. Battiest will be eligible for “elder parole” at the age of 50.  This is due to the passage of Assembly Bill 3234 in 2021, which lowered the age of qualification for “elderly parole” from 60-years-old to 50 years-old.

The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorneys Matt Hobson and Christopher White, assisted by District Attorney Investigator Stephen Bussell. Detective Gino Rantissi and Sergeant Matthew White with the Santa Rosa Police Department headed the investigation.


Contact Information

Media Spokesperson, Assistant District Attorney Brian Staebell
Media Coordinator, Carrie Trevena
(707) 565-3098