PALMDALE : Life Terms Imposed in Murder-Robbery

Two Palmdale men were sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for beating a man to death and then using the dead man’s automated teller machine card to take money from his account.

Paul Nicholson, 27, and Michael Goldsberry, 22, were convicted in December by a San Fernando Superior Court jury in the slaying of Valentin S. Montesdeoca, 43, whose body was found Sept. 8, 1991, in a Palmdale drainage ditch.

“I think the sentence is appropriate,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. Chesley N. McKay. “It was a senseless murder, as almost all murders are.”

Nicholson and Goldsberry were arrested at a Palmdale motel a day after Montesdeoca’s body was found.


A friend of the two men told sheriff’s deputies that the two told her they had robbed a “Mexican” and “beat him around.”

The friend testified during the trial that Nicholson told her that he beat Montesdeoca until he gave up his ATM card and personal identification number to access the account.

The coroner said Montesdeoca died from asphyxia and a severe blow to the head.

A key to the men’s motel room was also found embedded in Montesdeoca’s back.

The trial was moved to San Fernando from Lancaster at the request of defense attorneys, who contended that pretrial publicity made it difficult to find an unbiased jury in the Antelope Valley.