A prosecutor said Tuesday that Michael Jace — who played a Los Angeles police officer on the television drama “The Shield” — shot his wife in front of their two young children in a “really sad story of obsession and control,” while a defense attorney countered that the case comes down to the actor’s mindset and whether the killing was premeditated.
In her opening statement in Jace’s murder trial, Deputy District Attorney Tannaz Mokayef told jurors that the actor’s wife, April, was shot once in the back by the defendant but was able to walk to a hallway in the couple’s home, where her husband shot her twice more.
According to the prosecutor, Jace told his wife — a running enthusiast, “You like to run so much. Why don’t you try running to heaven?,” before shooting her in the legs.
The 53-year-old actor was arrested the day after his wife’s May 19, 2014, death and has remained behind bars since then.
The prosecutor told the six-man, six-woman jury that Jace believed his wife, who worked as a financial aid adviser at Biola University in La Mirada, was having an affair and that she had asked for a divorce and “wanted out of the marriage.”
“What you will hear is a really sad story of obsession and control,” Mokayef said of the actor, who had “been out of work for a while,” and his wife. “The defendant did not want her to leave or the divorce.”
The two had exchanged a series of text messages throughout the day, including one in which he wrote that he was at a friend’s home when he was actually “at home waiting with a loaded gun,” the prosecutor said.
The prosecutor said Jace sent a text message that evening to his father- in-law in which he wrote, “Come get the boys. I shot April,” and that Jace called 911 eight minutes later to report, “I shot my wife.”
After police arrived at the couple’s home in the Hyde Park area of Los Angeles, Jace said that he had sent their two children to their room and that his wife had lunged at him before the shooting, Mokayef said.
One of Jace’s attorneys, Jamon Hicks, told jurors that a “terrible, terrible, terrible tragedy occurred.”
“This case is not about who did it. We acknowledge it. We acknowledge responsibility,” he said. “This case is about why it was done.”
Hicks said the case centers around two words — premeditation and mindset.
“The state is saying this was a premeditated killing … We’re going to talk a lot about his mindset,” Hicks said.
He said jurors would be able to get insight into Jace’s mindset by looking at the text messages the couple had exchanged earlier that day.
“We’re not going to provide you with an excuse. We’re going to provide you with an explanation,” he said.
If convicted of the murder charge and an allegation that he personally discharged a handgun, he could face up to 50 years to life in state prison.
Jace is best known for his role as LAPD Officer Julien Lowe in “The Shield,” which aired on the FX cable channel from 2002 through 2008. He has also appeared in such films as “Forrest Gump,” “Boogie Nights” and “Planet of the Apes.”
— Wire reports
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