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Man gets 35 years to life for killing Long Beach woman during argument over 2016 election

People walk near the entrance to a courthouse building
The Gov. George Deukmejian Courthouse in Long Beach, where John Kevin McVoy Jr. was sentenced Monday after being found guilty of second-degree murder.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
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A Corona man was sentenced this week to 35 years to life in prison for fatally shooting a woman as she held her 2-year-old son during an argument over the 2016 presidential election, authorities said.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge sentenced John Kevin McVoy Jr. on Monday after a jury at the Long Beach courthouse in November found McVoy guilty of second-degree murder and an allegation that he used a gun in the killing, said Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

The jury acquitted McVoy of two charges of attempted murder and one charge of child abuse, Santiago said.

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The shooting took place the evening of Jan. 10, 2017, when McVoy visited the home of Susan Garcia and her husband, Victor Garcia, in the 6300 block of Knight Avenue in Long Beach, prosecutors said.

McVoy and Victor Garcia were in a band together and were there to practice, according to a report by the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

McVoy’s defense attorney, Ninaz Saffari, told The Times that her client acted as a band promoter, supplying Victor Garcia with musical equipment. She said the two men’s business relationship had soured and that McVoy had come to the Long Beach home that evening to quit the band.

During a discussion about politics with two other friends inside the home, someone asked McVoy whom he had voted for in the 2016 presidential election.

When McVoy said Hillary Clinton, Victor Garcia told McVoy to leave his house. McVoy pulled out a gun and shot Victor Garcia and then Susan Garcia, who held their 2-year-old son on her lap, prosecutors said.

Victor survived, but Susan Garcia died of her wounds at the home. The boy was unharmed.

Two other friends at the home took McVoy’s gun, restrained him and called police.

At the sentencing hearing Monday, Victor Garcia told the court that he still had physical issues after spending months in a coma and undergoing two brain surgeries.

McVoy apologized to the family in court and said it was not his intent to hurt anyone.

Saffari called the sentencing “unfortunate” and “an injustice” to her client. Throughout the trial, Saffari asserted that McVoy felt his life was threatened and that he had fired his handgun in self-defense.

Leading up to the night of the shooting, Saffari said, Victor Garcia had on multiple occasions threatened McVoy, who had offers to take another music gig. In one instance, Garcia had brandished a shotgun at McVoy, she said.

McVoy brought his handgun to the house with those threats in mind but intended to use it only if he needed to defend himself, Saffari said. McVoy opened fire during a physical altercation following the heated verbal argument, said the defense attorney, who added that McVoy aimed the first shot at Victor Garcia but did not intend to shoot Susan Garcia.

“I really do strongly believe in John’s innocence,” Saffari said. “As far as his judgment, maybe, yeah, it was poor judgment, but the guy had been threatening him with a shotgun, so he was afraid.”

Saffari said that if jurors were given a self-defense option for the murder charge, as they had with the attempted murder and child abuse charges, McVoy would have been acquitted of all counts.

She plans to appeal the sentencing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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