REDWOOD CITY — After only one full day of deliberations a San Mateo County Superior Court jury found a 54-year-old man guilty Friday of first-degree murder for savagely beating his employers to death in their Millbrae home in 2006.
Joseph George Cua, a part-time resident of both Burlingame and Hemet in Southern California, sat with his lawyers as the jury announced that they found him guilty of two counts of first-degree murder as well as a special allegation of multiple murders. Investor Fernand Wagner, 78, and part-time hairstylist Suzanne Wagner, 68, were found murdered on June 14 in their home. Police discovered their bodies after Suzanne Wagner failed to show up to work that day. Cua was their building manager and had known them for 25 years. Foreperson Heather Harms and juror Zinta Zarins said the jury had little doubt as to Cua’s guilt, and spent most of their time deliberating between first and second-degree murder. They said that by Thursday evening only one person was still debating between the degrees of murder, so they all went home and slept on it to be sure they were positive about their decision. “There is such a responsibility of it,” Harms, a psychiatric nurse, said regarding the decision. Deputy District Attorney Sean Gallagher said he is thrilled the case has concluded. “It’s been an unbearable two years for the family and I’m just glad that we could be the voice of the victims” and get Cua sentenced, Gallagher added. Prosecutors believe Cua murdered the couple because they realized he was stealing money from them. From January 2004 to June 2006, when the Wagners were killed, Cua embezzled around $250,000, Gallagher said. A forensic tax expert testified earlier in the trial that Cua was skimming money from renters’ monthly checks to pay for his nearly $100,000 in commercial debt that didn’t include his home mortgage. The Wagners owned three buildings, one each in Burlingame, Redwood City and San Jose. Cua was their property manager and collected rent checks from the Burlingame and San Jose properties. Defense attorney Edward Pomeroy said that Fernand Wagne Continue Reading.