A Costa Mesa man found guilty of killing his former girlfriend after listening to a Guns N’ Roses song was sentenced to 50 years to life on Friday, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Thomas Michael Wilhelm, 53, was convicted last November on a felony count of first-degree murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death, according to a DA’s news release.
Wilhelm entered his neighbor’s home on the evening of July 8, 2012, and stole a handgun, prosecutors said. He then returned to his residence with the intent to kill his ex-girlfriend and business partner, 45-year-old Christine Murray, the release stated.
The pair lived together at a home in the 2900 block of Redwood Avenue, along with her son, who was 8 years old at the time, according to transcripts of the grand jury indictment.
Approximately 11 minutes before she was killed, Murray sent a text message to a friend stating that Wilhelm was drinking alcohol while he loudly played the Guns N’ Roses song “Used to Love Her” and sang along to the lyrics, “I used to love her, but I had to kill her,” prosecutors said.
Wilhelm went into Murray’s bedroom and chased her into the bathroom. He then pulled out the gun and proceeded to shoot the victim six times, the release stated.
After, he ran back to the neighbor’s home and stole a shotgun, firing a single round into the ground in an unsuccessful attempt to shoot himself.
Murray was unconscious when she was found by Costa Mesa Police Department officers, who responded to the home after a third party called 911 after hearing the shotgun discharge in the neighbor’s backyard. She had been shot multiple times in the chest, and later died at a hospital.
Wilhelm was arrested, and the weapons were recovered by police.
The motive may have been over a business dispute, a DA official said months after the fatal shooting.