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Actor Michael Jace Found Guilty of Murdering Wife

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on May 31, 2016 3:51 PM

Actors are necessarily dramatic people and so it is perhaps not surprising that their personal lives are full of drama, too. Today, for example, Michael Jace, an actor who played a policeman on the hit television series "The Shield," was found guilty of murdering his wife in 2014.

His trial in Los Angeles lasted a week. The jury -- six men and six women -- deliberated for two hours before finding him guilty of second-degree murder. He will be sentenced on June 10 and could be convicted to life in prison. There are conflicting media reports about the minimum sentence Jace faces, varying between 40 and 50 years in prison.

Requisite Intent

Jace, now 53, was out of work and having financial problems in 2014 when the murder occurred. His defense attorney argued that the shooting was not premeditated but a spontaneous act that arose in the heat of passion. In other words, Jace did not deny shooting his wife. He simply denied that it was murder.

The defense argued that Jace committed manslaughter because he did not have the requisite intent -- or mens rea as it is called in the law -- to kill. After the shooting, Michael called 911 to report the incident, but April Jace, 40, was dead by the time police arrived, according to Buzzfeed News. Jace said at trial that he planned to kill himself but could not follow through, and planned only to shoot his wife in the leg because he was angry.

Family Matters

The state, however, successfully countered the defendant's claim, showing that Michael was lying in wait with a loaded gun when his wife came home. April Jace, a school financial aid counselor, apparently told Michael that she was planning to file for divorce at some point before the incident occurred, that same day. There was a text message from her to him saying that she was afraid of coming home and afraid of him reacting violently in front of the children -- apparently, she had good reason.

Michael told his wife he wasn't home but he was and was waiting with a loaded revolver. Jace's two children were present when he shot their mother in the back and twice in the legs. The kids were eight and five-years-old at the time, and the older of them, now 10, testified at the trial. Their father has been in state custody since 2014 and the children are in the care of relatives reportedly.

"The Shield" was a successful television series that ran from 2002-2008 on FX and was about a Los Angeles police department with some crooked cops who did not always follow the law. Unfortunately for Michael Jace, who played a police officer on the show, he has had extensive, real contact with the criminal justice system that the show was based on in recent years, and it appears now that the only role left for Jace is prisoner.

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