Woman Found Guilty of First Degree Murder for Burning Victim Alive

October 30, 2013

CONTACT: Alex Bastian, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1931
Stephanie Ong Stillman, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – District Attorney George Gascón announced today that Mia Sagote, age 36, was convicted of first degree murder and special circumstance allegations for dousing Leslie “Jill” May, age 49, with gasoline and burning her alive in retaliation for cooperating with police.

"The vile nature of this execution can only be characterized as pure, unadulterated evil. Burning another person alive violates every principal of a modern society,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “We want to thank the jury for their service and ensuring justice was served for Leslie May’s family.”

According to court testimony, May was first accosted by Sagote on the morning of January 11, 2007. Sagote was angry that May’s longtime boyfriend owed interest on a drug debt. When May said she had no money, Sagote cornered her against a trash container and demanded her clothes and money. Fearing for her safety, May handed over all her possessions, including her clothing, leaving her naked in the street. Sagote rifled thru May’s clothing, took the little money she had and threw her clothes in a garbage container.

A few hours later, SFPD Officer Gary Peachey discovered May “dope sick”, lying in a fetal position on the 500 block of Jones Street. Officer Peachey rendered aide, attempted to speak to May and called an ambulance. Witnesses in the Tenderloin saw Officer Peachey speaking to May. Sagote’s drug associates witnessed the conversation and informed Sagote that May had made a police report regarding the robbery.

The next day on January 12, 2007, Sagote contacted her accomplice, Leslie Saliga, and picked her up in a 2 door Mazda. They drove down to the Tenderloin and located May once more on the 500 block of Jones Street. Sagote pulled the car over to the curb, called May over to discuss the police report, and when May attempted to flee, Saliga got out of the car and grabbed her. She pulled May into the back seat of the Mazda, with Sagote reaching across the car to assist. Sagote proceeded to a gas station at 1st and Harrison where she purchased a plastic gas container. She filled it up with gasoline and drove to an isolated parking lot at Candlestick Point. Sagote then dragged May out of the car, doused her with gasoline and lit her on fire. Jill May burned alive.

Witnesses who testified in court identified Sagote as the driver of the Mazda. After being arrested, Sagote’s accomplice, Leslie Saliga, admitted her involvement and cooperated with the prosecution. In exchange for her testimony against Mia Sagote, Saliga pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and kidnapping for which she will serve 14 years and 4 months in state prison.

The jury deliberated for four hours and found Mia Sagote guilty of first degree murder with special circumstances for kidnapping and torture. The defendant is facing life without the possibility of parole. Sentencing is scheduled for December 17th in Dept. 24. The Honorable Bruce Chan presided over the trial.

This conviction is the result of a first class investigation by San Francisco Police Department Inspectors Mike Gaynor and Michael Phillpot. Assistant District Attorney Michael Swart prosecuted the case. Martine Barbier was the Victim Advocate. Laura Carwile, a post bar clerk, aided the prosecution’s efforts.