A California man pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sergeant in 2016 in what Sheriff Alex Villanueva called an execution-style killing.
Sergeant Steve Owen, 53, was shot in the head by Trenton Lovell, 31, while responding to a report of a break-in in Lancaster in northern Los Angeles County on Oct. 5, 2016, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Lovell previously confessed that he continued to shoot Owen as he lay wounded on the ground, claiming he “finished the job,” according to The Times.
Under the terms of a plea deal, he is expected to face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Sergeant Steve Owen, 53, was shot in the head by Trenton Lovell, 31, while he was responding to a report of a break-in in Lancaster in northern Los Angeles County on Oct. 5, 2016 (LASD)
“Today, the parolee who senselessly executed Sergeant Steve Owen & attempted to murder Deputy Zachary Anderson pled guilty,” Villanueva said in a statement Thursday. “Sergeant Owen was murdered in the performance of his lawful duties protecting his Antelope Valley community. As his LASD family continues to grieve his murder, I stand in solidarity with his family and friends.”
Owen had radioed that he had Lovell at gunpoint at the scene before Lovell shot him.
Deputy Zachary Anderson then arrived at the scene and shot Lovell in the shoulder, wounding him while he was still standing over Owen’s body, the deputy reportedly said.
Lovell allegedly tried to steal Owen’s patrol car, ramming Anderson’s car and nearly running him over in the process, The Times reported.
Police said Lovell then ran to a home in the neighborhood where he held two teenagers at gunpoint as officers cordoned off the area amid the manhunt. One of the teens reportedly pretended to have a panic attack so he could call his mother. The mother then told police where the suspect was hiding.
Newly elected Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón has barred prosecutors from filing a special circumstance seeking life without parole but the charges against Lovell were filed before Gascón took office, according to The Times.
“Sgt. Owen sacrificed his life to protect the community he served,” Gascón said in a statement Thursday. “This plea will not bring Sgt. Owen back but will hopefully provide some small measure of peace to his family.”
Lovell also pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder, burglary, felon in possession of a gun, robbery and false imprisonment.
Owen was a husband and father and a 29-year veteran of the department, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.