Kovacich found guilty

Alternate jurors: Circumstantial evidence was strong
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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After 26 years of wondering who killed a beloved Auburn mother of two, the answer came. A jury found Paul Kovacich, Jr., a former Placer County Sheriff’s Office sergeant, guilty of murder with the use of a firearm in the Sept. 8, 1982 death and disappearance of his wife, Janet Kovacich. The defendant did not display emotion and kept his head down as the jury was asked individually to answer whether or not their verdict was guilty of first-degree murder and agreeing that the allegation of the use of firearm was true. Each juror said, “yes.” The jury deliberated almost four days before reaching a decision. Judge Mark Curry said a gag order, prohibiting anyone involved with case from discussing it publicly, will remain in place until a February hearing. The defense has issued a motion to dismiss. Neither prosecutor Suzanne Gazzaniga nor defense attorneys John Spurling and Michael Sganga could comment on the case as a result of the gag order. Outside of the courtroom, Auburn Police Chief Valerie Harris, as well as other investigators involved in the case gathered but were also instructed not to comment. It was not apparent if family or friends of either Paul Kovacich or Janet Kovacich were in attendance. The jury was quickly shuttled out of the courthouse by court officials. Three of the six alternates were in the courtroom. Beverly Copren, of Auburn, an alternate juror, said the moment was “bittersweet.” “It’s sad, but it’s what I felt,” Copren said. Another alternate, who declined to give her last name, said she also agreed with the verdict. “I felt the evidence strongly favored that verdict,” Sandy said. Sandy added she felt Paul Kovacich’s alibis were not credible. Copren added that despite the fact that many of the witnesses were testifying from events that happened more than 26 years ago, she felt they were strong. She said there wasn’t one specific piece of evidence that swayed her decision. “I think it was a combination of all of the evidence,” Copren said. “Even though it was circumstantial, it was strong.” Before Curry released the jury, he thanked them for fulfilling their civic duty during the four-month long trial. “As far as I am concerned you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty,” Curry said. Paul Kovacich was remanded into custody. He remained seated as court bailiff’s secured handcuffs around him. He will appear again in Placer County Superior Court at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 20 in Dept. 4 in the historic Auburn courthouse. The Journal’s Jenifer Gee can be reached at or post a comment at