A 32-year-old Texas man was convicted Monday of terrorizing his ex-girlfriend’s family in their Irvine home at gunpoint for hours before fatally shooting her father while wounding her mother and one of her two brothers.
Alwyn Gibson’s attorney conceded that the defendant killed 60-year-old De Le during an hours-long standoff with police Feb. 20, 2009, and wounded his wife, Ly Le, then 47, and their son, Michael Le, then 22. But she argued that he did not act with premeditation and deliberation and did not shoot them with the intent to rob them as alleged by the prosecution.
Gibson had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, so his conviction moved the trial immediately into a second phase, in which jurors must determine if Gibson was insane at the time of the shootings. If he is found insane, he would be sent to a mental health institution indefinitely. Otherwise he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Gibson was convicted of murder and one count of attempted murder for shooting Michael Le. But the panel acquitted him of an attempted murder charge stemming from the shooting of Ly Le.
During the trial, Senior Deputy District Attorney Eric Scarbrough told jurors that Gibson had an “on-again, off-again” relationship with the murder victim’s daughter, Jennifer, who he met through a mutual friend at a party. They moved in together in December 2004 in Mission Viejo, the prosecutor said, but “had a volatile relationship” in which Gibson often displayed signs of jealousy.
They eventually stopped cohabitating, but the relationship continued to be volatile. He showed up at the Irvine home of her family, where she no longer lived, brandishing a .22-caliber rifle and demanding cash, according to Scarbrough.
When Gibson only found a “lucky $2 bill”‘ in Ly Le’s purse, he was incensed, Scarbrough said, and the family assured him they would go to an ATM with him to get cash.
Gibson demanded keys to the family’s Mercedes Benz and another vehicle, Scarbrough said. He said Gibson appeared ready to go to an ATM with the family patriarch, whom he had ordered to get into the trunk, but another family member bolted for the front door and made it to a neighbor’s home to call police.
A furious Gibson marched the rest of the family upstairs to a darkened master bedroom at gunpoint, the prosecutor said.
Throughout the five-hour standoff with police, Gibson spoke calmly and coherently with hostage negotiators, Scarbrough said.
De Le’s last words before being shot in the back of the head, according to his wife, were, “Things haven’t gone too far. You haven’t hurt anyone yet. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life in jail,” Scarbrough said.
As Michael Le comforted his mother, Gibson shot him through the neck, using a pillow as a silencer, Scarbrough said, and the victim played dead.
Ly Le, believing that she was going to be killed, bolted for the door and was shot in the arm, Scarbrough said. As the defendant helped her get up, she made another dash for freedom “into the arms of Irvine police,” the prosecutor said.
Gibson, who eventually gave himself up, was careful not to emerge from the home with the gun and was on the phone with negotiators as he exited, Scarbrough said.
“The defendant knew what he was doing when he pulled that trigger and killed Le,” Scarbrough told the jury.
Gibson’s attorney, Jacqueline Freeman, said her client “is the one who did the shootings,” but contested that he acted with premeditation and deliberation or in the course of a robbery.
“For Mr. Gibson, there was no plan that night,” Freeman said.
Gibson tried to check into a psychiatric facility the day before the shootings, she said.
“He didn’t have goals that night,” the defense attorney said. “He didn’t know what was going to happen.”
If Gibson’s intent was the rob the family, he could have taken the car keys and left, she said. But he drove to the home in his own car and had a great deal of cash on him, so money wasn’t an issue, she said.
“These shootings are tragic and sad, but his intention was not to go there and rob or steal,” Freeman said.
–City News Service
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