Man convicted of shooting woman to death as she held her 2-year-old son

A Riverside County man was convicted Wednesday of second-degree murder for shooting a Long Beach woman to death while she held her 2-year-old son. Jurors, however, acquitted the shooter of charges that he tried to harm the child and the woman’s husband.

Jurors deliberated more than four days before finding John Kevin McVoy Jr., now 40, of Corona, guilty of killing 33-year-old Susan Garcia. Jurors also found true an allegation that he personally used a handgun.

The panel acquitted McVoy of attempted murder and the lesser charge of attempted voluntary manslaughter involving the woman’s husband, Victor Garcia, who was seriously wounded, along with attempted murder and child endangerment against the couple’s 2-year-old son. The boy was not injured by the gunfire.

McVoy was in a band with Victor Garcia and was with the couple in their dining room when he shot them on Jan. 10, 2017. Prosecutors alleged the shooting stemmed from a political discussion that involved teasing McVoy about voting for Hilary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, but McVoy maintained he acted in self-defense, according to the Press-Telegram newspaper.

Deputy District Attorney Irene Lee told jurors in her closing argument that there was “very strong evidence” against McVoy and urged the panel to convict him of all four charges, while defense attorney Ninaz Saffari countered that the prosecution “did not prove their case of murder, attempted murder or child endangerment beyond a reasonable doubt.”

From the stand, McVoy maintained that he brought a loaded handgun to the home because Victor Garcia had shown him a shotgun and “made a threat” in early December 2016.

The defendant told jurors that he had gone to the home to talk with Victor Garcia, and called what happened a “tragic event” and the “most horrible outcome you can imagine.”

McVoy testified that he shot Victor Garcia after the man threatened him with a can opener after making racially and politically charged comments during then-President Barack Obama’s televised farewell speech, according to the Press-Telegram.

McVoy testified that the gun went off again as one of Garcia’s friends struggled with him, with that shot striking Susan Garcia before one of the men beat him and another kicked him, according to the newspaper.

The prosecutor told jurors that McVoy “absolutely lied to you” about previous threats he said Victor Garcia made against him and that his account of what had happened during the shooting makes “no sense” when all of the other evidence is considered.

“There are no prior threats. This is all made up,” the prosecutor said of the defendant’s claim.

“He’s the one that made this something else … There was no imminent danger at the time,” Lee told the panel.

The prosecutor said the defendant fired “kill shots”—not warning shots—in what was “not a heated situation.”

McVoy’s attorney alleged that police “didn’t do a thorough investigation” before turning the case over to the District Attorney’s Office two days after the killing and that they “didn’t want to hear his side of the story.”

“They don’t have motive. They don’t have intent,” Saffari said of the prosecution’s case. “They haven’t proven it.”

The defense lawyer told jurors that her client is a “nice guy” who “gets along with everyone.”

“He’s telling the truth about what happened that day,” she said of her client’s testimony.

McVoy was arrested by Long Beach police shortly after the killing. He has remained behind bars since then, jail records show. He is now facing a potential 40-year-to-life state prison term, with sentencing set Dec. 15 in a Long Beach courtroom.

After the verdict, the prosecutor said, “I feel like I want it to be known that what this guy did devastated a family and now a child will not know his mother. My heart really goes out to the family.”

Bandmate killed woman holding toddler after teasing over politics, witnesses say

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