A Carlsbad woman and her Oceanside gun instructor were found guilty Monday of conspiracy to commit murder in what authorities have said was a botched murder-for-hire plot targeting her now-ex-husband, who was shot but survived.
Diana Lovejoy, 45, collapsed not long after hearing she had been convicted of the conspiracy charge as well as attempted murder. Many in the courtroom gasped when she fell, and her family members started sobbing and asking someone to help her.
Judge Sim von Kalinowski cleared the courtroom so Lovejoy could receive medical attention.
Fox 5 reporter Jamie Chambers — a lifeguard and emergency medical technician — assisted Lovejoy while she was on the floor until help could arrive. Chambers said Lovejoy had passed out, but was conscious when he eventually left her side. He said it appeared that she had been overcome by shock.
After paramedics took Lovejoy to a hospital — wheeled out on a gurney — court resumed. The same jury also found co-defendant Weldon McDavid Jr., 50, guilty on all counts and allegations, including attempted murder. As his family watched, he closed his eyes, put his head in his hands and cried.
Lovejoy faces at least 25 years to life in prison. McDavid, as the triggerman, faces 50 to life. Sentencing is set for Dec. 12.
Lovejoy and Greg Mulvihill were two years into a heated divorce and fierce custody battle over their young son, a legal fight that included allegations of abuse and drug use. It was drawing to a close, with shared custody and an agreement that Lovejoy would pay Mulvihill $120,000. That payment was due weeks after he was shot.
"She didn't want to share custody, and she didn't want to give $120,000 to her husband," jury forewoman Erin Reed said.
There was no dispute that McDavid pulled the trigger and shot Greg Mulvihill on a dark dirt path in Carlsbad on Sept. 1, 2016 at about 11 p.m.
The question was whether the expert gunman did it as a $2,000 hired hitman, or whether he was simply trying to shoot out the light in Mulvihill's left hand. The shot came after Mulvihill spotted McDavid, lying on his stomach in the bushes, wearing camouflage and pointing a long-barrel gun at him.
McDavid — a former Marine and School of Infantry instructor — testified that it was the latter, that had he intended to kill the man, he could have easily done so. The bullet missed the light in Mulvihill's outstretched hand and instead struck him under his left armpit, and exited out of his back.
Lovejoy did not testify.
Jurors, who deliberated about half a day before reaching their verdicts, didn't buy McDavid's testimony.
"We rejected his story pretty much off the bat," said a 63-year-old male juror who declined to give his name. "He was lying. It was getting absurd at times."
He and other jurors said they believed that McDavid did hit Mulvihill exactly where he was aiming — his torso.
Lovejoy's collapse threw some of the jurors. Forewoman Reed said that it was "hard when we watched her faint. But that didn't change any of our verdicts."
One juror said that among the strongest pieces of evidence was testimony from Lovejoy's aunt, who said that a year before the shooting, Lovejoy had asked her if she knew someone who would scare or kill her husband.
Lovejoy, a software technical writer, met McDavid at the gun range where he worked. He later installed a security system in her home.
Using a burner phone Lovejoy bought, McDavid called Mulvihill and pretended to be a private investigator on the night of the shooting. He told Mulvihill that he would provide evidence showing that Mulvihill was abusive, and that he would leave that evidence on a pole along a dirt path of Avenida Soledad, near Rancho Santa Fe.
There was no such evidence. McDavid said that the idea was that if such a sketchy phone call could lure Mulvihill to a dark spot, he must be guilty of something. McDavid said he thought Lovejoy could use that against Mulvihill in the custody battle.
"The defense they were giving just didn't seem plausible," juror Reed said. "It seemed too far fetched for what actually happened."