An actor known for playing an LAPD officer on the television series “The Shield” was sentenced to 40 years to life in state prison Friday for the murder of his wife, who was fatally shot in front of the couple’s young sons.
Michael Andrew Jace, 53, was found guilty May 31 of second-degree murder in the death of April Jace. A jury deliberated for about two hours before convicting him.
April Jace was killed at the couple’s home in Hyde Park on May 19, 2014.
Jace was upset that his wife wanted a divorce and obsessively believed she was cheating on him, the prosecutor said, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
He shot April Jace one in the back after she came home, and then shot her two more times in the legs in front of their boys, who were ages 8 and 5 at the time of the killing. The children were not physically harmed.
Michael Jace called 911 and confessed to the crime. He has been in custody since the Los Angeles Police Department responded to the home.
History of domestic violence, money troubles
It wasn't the actor's first experience with domestic violence, according to people who knew him.
A woman described as a close friend of Jace's first wife said in a sworn statement that she witnessed Jace battering his then-wife in 1997.
The statement was in court records from Jace's 2005 custody case concerning his son with Jennifer Bitterman.
Jace "choked and hit" his wife and "slammed her against the wall while (their infant son) screamed in his crib next to her," Maria De Le Vegas said in the sworn court declaration obtained by CNN.
After the divorce, Jace married April Jace in June 2003. He later suffered financial difficulties, declaring Chapter 13 bankruptcy in March 2011, according to court records obtained by CNN.
He cited $500,000 in debts and an annual income of about $80,000 from residuals from his TV and film work, the documents said.
He had also defaulted on the $411,000 mortgage on the home where he shot his wife, the documents said.
April Jace had worked as a financial aid counselor at Biola University, the private evangelical Christian school in La Mirada.
"April's radiant personality brought great energy to the financial aid office," Biola financial aid director Geoff Marsh said after the killing in 2014. "Her love for helping students and families and her great work ethic earned the respect and love of her coworkers. Her smiling face and helpful spirit will be missed by all."
Jace often played the good guy in movie and TV roles
The FX police drama "The Shield" provided the biggest and longest-running role in Jace's 22-year acting career. He appeared in 89 episodes as Julien Lowe, who started as a rookie officer in an inner-city Los Angeles police precinct in 2002 and rose through the ranks to become a detective before the series ended in 2008, according to the Internet Movie Database.
Jace often played a law enforcement or military officer on television shows. He acted on several episodes of "Southland," another TV drama about Los Angeles police, between 2009 and 2012.
He had the title role of Michael Jordan in the 1999 TV movie about the NBA star, "Michael Jordan: An American Hero."