A pot farmer, who killed his immigrant worker because the man wanted to leave, has been sentenced to life in prison plus 35 years by a federal judge.
Mikal Wilde, 33, of Kneeland, Calif. murdered Mario Juarez-Madrid and shot a second worker, Pedro Lopez-Paz, in 2010 when the men tried to leave a marijuana crop early and collect their pay.
In addition, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen sentenced Wilde to pay $50,000 in restitution to his victims during the Monday hearing.
Jurors convicted Wilde in March of murder during a narcotics offense, use of a fire arm in a premeditated murder, conspiracy to grow and possess marijuana with an intent to distribute.
Wilde hired three workers to water and care for more than 1,500 marijuana plants on 800 acres of mountain property near Eureka in 2010.
In August, the workers became unhappy with the conditions and sought payment for their work so far and planned to leave, according to the government.
According to court papers, Wilde hired immigrants because he believed they were “expendable” and not in a position to complain.
Rather than pay the men, Wilde shot Lopez-Paz in the face, but he survived by hiding in the woods all night until he found help in the morning. Wilde shot Juarez-Madrid three times and hunted him down putting a final shot in the back of his head.
A third worker, Christopher Bigelow, also fled into the woods and hid until he was found by a jogger the next day, according to the government.
Wilde has been in federal custody since 2012.
Case: U.S. v. Wilde, No. 12-cr-144