Killer who dumped body in Nipomo sentenced to 35 years to life

February 10, 2024

Kimberly Machleit


A Santa Barbara County judge on Wednesday sentenced a Santa Maria woman to 35 years to life in prison for murdering a man whose remains were found on a Nipomo golf course in 2020. 

Following a trial in which 39-year-old Kimberly Machleit claimed self-defense, the jury found her guilty of first-degree murder and use of a firearm causing death. Machleit was one of three defendants in the case of the 2018 murder of Joseph Martin Govey, of Santa Maria. 

Govey was reported missing in Dec. 2018. On Sept. 21, 2020, a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s dive team searched a lake at Black Lake Golf Resort in Nipomo and found remains. The dive team conducted the search following a tip from Benjamin Mersai, of Grover Beach, one of the defendants.

A day later, detectives arrested Machleit and her boyfriend Donald Anderson. Machleit, Anderson, Mersai and Govey shared a townhouse in Santa Maria.

Mersai testified that Machleit shot Govey in the face in the kitchen. Mechleit said Govey had a knife and that she acted in self-defense.

Using a reciprocating saw, Anderson and Mersai dismembered Govey’s body at their home in Santa Maria before they disposed of it in Nipomo.

On Wednesday, Judge John McGregor sentenced Machleit in Santa Maria Superior Court to 10 years, plus 25 years to life in state prison.

For his part in disposing of the body along with drug and gun charges, Anderson was previously sentenced to 10 years and eight months in prison. As part of a plea deal, Mersai was facing three years in prison.

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