A state appeals court panel today upheld a Riverside County man’s second-degree murder conviction for a woman’s shooting death at her Long Beach home.

The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that there was insufficient evidence to support John Kevin McVoy Jr.’s conviction, finding that the evidence was “reasonable, credible, and of solid value, and thus sufficient to support the jury’s verdict of second-degree murder.”

The appellate court justices also rejected an argument that there had been errors in the instructions that were given to the Long Beach jury that heard the case against McVoy.

McVoy is serving a 35-year-to-life state prison sentence for the Jan. 10, 2017, killing of 33-year-old Susan Garcia.

In December 2021, jurors deliberated for more than four days before finding the Corona resident guilty of second-degree murder. The panel also found true an allegation that he personally used a handgun.

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

During his testimony at trial, McVoy maintained that he brought the 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 fired at Victor Garcia when the man threatened him with what he later realized was a can opener after making comments during then-President Barack Obama’s televised farewell speech and telling McVoy to get out of his house, according to the appellate court panel’s 24-page ruling.

The defendant testified that the gun went off again as he struggled with one of Garcia’s friends, with that shot striking Susan Garcia, according to the ruling.

McVoy was arrested the next day by Long Beach police. He has remained behind bars since then.

Then-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.”

The prosecutor told jurors that McVoy “absolutely lied to you” about previous threats he testified that Victor Garcia — with whom he was in a garage band — had made against him, and that his account of what had happened 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.