LOS ANGELES — Actor Michael Jace, who portrayed a Los Angeles police officer on the television series “The Shield,” was sentenced Friday to 40 years to life in prison after apologizing for fatally shooting his wife in front of their two young children in their Hyde Park home.
The 53-year-old actor — who spoke for the first time in court about his wife April’s May 19, 2014, shooting death — said, “There is no justification for my actions that night at all, and I am profoundly sorry for the pain I have caused everyone. … There is no replacing April.”
The woman’s mother, Kay Henry, quickly walked out of court after Jace maintained that “there was no premeditated anything.”
“I realize it doesn’t bring her back,” Jace said, turning to tell her family members, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
Jurors deliberated less than three hours before convicting Jace on May 31 of second-degree murder, and finding true an allegation that he personally used a handgun.
During the trial, the couple’s 10-year-old son testified that he saw his father bring his mother into a hallway, where she fell down.
“Then my dad said, ‘If you like running, run to heaven, and then he shot her,” Nehemiah Jace told jurors.
April Jace’s mother told the judge that she “cried for hours after her death” and still cries during numerous activities, including worship at church, holidays, her birthday and May 19th — the anniversary of her daughter’s death.
“My life will never be the same,” she said, urging Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry to impose the maximum sentence on her daughter’s killer.
Monique Lejay, who is raising the couple’s two young sons, noted that the boys “lost their mother and their father.” She told the judge that her own world was “changed forever” when she learned about her older cousin’s shooting death.
In her closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Tannaz Mokayef told jurors that Jace was “obsessed” with his wife, who was trying to leave him amid his allegations that she had been unfaithful to him.
The prosecutor told the six-man, six-woman jury that the testimony from the couple’s 10-year-old son “tells you it was premeditated.”
Jace “is saying the words that show premeditation — go to heaven,” Mokayef said, noting that Jace shot his wife at close range after having already shot her in the back.
“Who is going to argue this is not an intent to kill?” she asked.
One of Jace’s attorneys, Jamon Hicks, conceded that Jace shot his wife once in the back and then twice in the legs. But he questioned whether the actor would have premeditated the shooting knowing that the children would be there.
Jace’s lawyer told jurors that there was no evidence that Jace was brewing or plotting the demise of his wife of nine years, and that the prosecution had “oversold this case” by pursuing a first-degree murder conviction.
“We’re saying he’s guilty. The question is of what?” Hicks said. “This isn’t first-degree [murder]. This isn’t second-degree [murder]. This is why we have voluntary manslaughter.”
In an interview with police after his wife’s death, Jace told police that he “wanted her to feel some pain” because she was a runner, the prosecutor noted.
In an audio-recorded interview played for the jury, Jace told police that he was holding the gun when his wife returned home from a baseball game with their sons but that she didn’t immediately notice the firearm.
He told police that she lunged at him, he pushed her away and she spun around before the shooting, and that all he intended to do was “just shoot her in the leg,” not kill her.
The actor also told detectives that he had been drinking that day and that “there were moments” when he had contemplated taking his own life.
After the verdict, the prosecutor said she was “absolutely satisfied” with Jace’s conviction on second-degree murder.
“Because it was a murder, and it wasn’t a voluntary [manslaughter], and that’s what the point was — it was a difference between what the jury thought as far as the planning involved in it, but it was definitely a murder and the right outcome happened,” she said.
Jace’s attorney said the defense also accepted the verdict.
“We understand that it’s not premeditated, and that’s what our whole goal was, to get that out, that it wasn’t premeditated,” he said. “We always knew he was going to be found guilty of something.”
Savoy Brown, April Jace’s son from a previous relationship, said a conviction for first- or second-degree murder was enough to make him happy.
“Each time I have to see his face, even if it’s from behind, it’s really depressing,” Brown said. “It hits you hard without you really realizing it.”
Jace is best known for his role as Los Angeles police Officer Julien Lowe in “The Shield.” He has also appeared in such films as “Forrest Gump,” “Boogie Nights” and “Planet of the Apes.”