‘Shield’ actor’s words used against him in murder trial
An actor who played a police officer on TV show "The Shield" is guilty of murder because of remarks he made about the killing to detectives, his brother-in-law and in text messages to his dead wife, a prosecutor told a jury Friday.
Deputy District Attorney Tannaz Mokayef used several statements from Michael Jace to make her case that "The Shield" actor should be convicted of first-degree murder in April Jace's May 2014 death.
The prosecutor also cited testimony from their 10-year-old son, who heard his father tell his mother, "`If you like running, then run to heaven."' She said the statement showed Michael Jace planned to kill his 40-year-old wife of nine years, who was an avid runner.
"Who is going to argue that this was not an intent to kill?" Mokayef said. "Where else is heaven?"
Jace acknowledges shooting April Jace three times -- once in the back and twice in the legs -- with his attorneys saying he was caught up in the heat of passion. Defense lawyer Jamon Hicks told jurors that the facts of the shooting were not in dispute and called the details horrible.
However, prosecutors were trying to oversell their case, Hicks said, urging the panel to convict the actor of the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter. Hicks said the case hinged on Jace's mindset at the time of the shooting and that prosecutors could not prove the killing was premeditated.
"He snapped," the attorney said about Jace. "If you find there was something that provoked this man ... and it created some kind of passion in him, that's manslaughter."
The prosecutor urged the panel of six men and six women to reject that argument, telling jurors that Jace fired a revolver that required him to pull a heavy trigger multiple times.
"I don't know how you can shoot somebody three times and call it an accident," Mokayef said in a blistering closing argument.
Michael Jace, who also had small roles in films such as "Boogie Nights," "Forrest Gump" and the TV show "Southland," had been out of work for years, and financial struggles put a strain on their marriage.
April Jace told her husband she wanted a divorce the day of the shooting, and the couple had argued. She told her husband she was scared in one text message sent hours before her death.
"I don't want you throwing things and breaking things and screaming lies to the boys," she wrote to her husband in a message retrieved from her cellphone. "I am afraid to come home."
April Jace was killed moments after returning home from a youth baseball game. Text messages presented during trial show Michael Jace had told his wife he had left their home, but instead he was waiting with a loaded handgun.
The actor told detectives he planned to kill himself but couldn't follow through. He also said he shot his wife the first time after she lunged at him.
"I was just angry," Michael Jace told investigators, according to a transcript released Thursday. "All I intended to do was shoot her in the leg. And then I shot her in the leg, and that was it."
He gave a lengthy interview to police and also called his wife's stepbrother explaining his actions. If convicted of first-degree murder, Jace faces 50 years to life in prison.
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