Prosecution: Drug Dealer Who Allegedly Burned Woman To Death In Candlestick Parking Lot Was Out For Revenge

The horrific death of a homeless woman who was kidnapped and lit on fire outside San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in 2007 should result in a first-degree murder conviction for her accused killer, a violent drug dealer who thought the victim was a snitch, a prosecutor said today.

Mia Sagote, 36, is on trial in San Francisco Superior Court for murder, kidnapping, robbery and conspiracy charges for allegedly dousing 49-year-old Jill May with gasoline and lighting her on fire on the morning of Jan. 12, 2007.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Swart gave his closing argument today, saying Sagote was angry because May reported her to police for stripping her naked and robbing her in the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood the previous day.

Swart said Sagote was a drug dealer who gave out narcotics on credit and used violent means to collect debts. He said May had “a desperate, horrible drug addiction” and had been in the Tenderloin for years.

He asked the jury, “Does it come as any surprise that they were on a collision course?”

On the morning of the murder, May was dragged into a car by two women and taken down to the empty stadium parking lot, where her charred body was found later that day along with a single sock, Swart said.

The sock was allegedly lit aflame and thrown at the gasoline-drenched May. A matching sock was later found in a Mazda sedan that had been driven by Sagote, the prosecutor said.

“Did anyone else have a motive to do something this horrific to Jill May? The answer is no,” he said.

The second woman accused in the case, Leslie Siliga, pleaded guilty earlier this year to lesser charges and testified in Sagote’s trial. She is awaiting sentencing and faces 14 years and four months in prison, Swart said.

Swart said Sagote admitted to investigators that she robbed May the day before the murder but denied responsibility for the killing.

However, she made incriminating statements during phone calls from jail to her boyfriend, Swart said.

He said cellphone records also showed she was in certain locations at times that matched the timeline of the crimes, including stopping at a gas station at First and Harrison streets to pick up a gas container, Swart said.

“This was a cold, calculated, deliberative, premeditated-type murder, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “Jill May deserved a much better fate.”

Sagote’s defense attorney Michael Gaines will give his closing argument on Monday in the trial, which has lasted for nearly four weeks.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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  • Bovine500

    For years, I saw Jill May panhandling in public places in San Francisco. Her situation was complicated and sad, and it broke my heart to learn how she died.

    I don’t know if anyone (outreach workers, et al) ever intervened to try to help Ms. May. She was a wounded person who needed nurturing, and maybe that was what made her especially vulnerable when someone wanted to abuse power.

    Jill May was in no position to take care of herself. She was living on the streets, and someone decided she was fair game. I know nothing about the defendants in this case, but can only hope the person(s) responsible can be held accountable.