Man charged with killing L.A. sheriff’s sergeant confessed to execution-style slaying, records show

Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell speaks as thousands gathered for the 2016 funeral of slain Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Owen in Lancaster.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell speaks as thousands gathered for the 2016 funeral of slain Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Owen in Lancaster.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The man charged in the 2016 execution-style slaying of a Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant confessed to the shooting and told police he emptied his revolver into the officer’s body, according to records made public Monday.

Trenton Lovell, who is awaiting trial in the murder of Sgt. Steve Owen, told investigators he shot the veteran law enforcement officer in the face in Lancaster and then “walked up and … finished the job” by firing several rounds into Owen’s prone body.

Lovell’s statement was contained in a memorandum released by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, which concluded that Deputy Zachary Anderson used lawful force when he shot and wounded Lovell during the October 2016 confrontation.

According to the memorandum, Lovell made the statement to investigators following his arrest and it was recorded.

Lovell, 28, has been charged with murder, attempted murder, burglary and false imprisonment in connection with Owen’s death and the manhunt that followed. He has pleaded not guilty. Monica Lee Thelen, the public defender representing Lovell, declined to comment Monday because she had not seen the district attorney’s memo.


The Sheriff’s Department declined to comment.

The district attorney’s office has not decided whether to seek the death penalty, a spokeswoman said.

A preliminary hearing is set for June 19, records show.

Owen was responding to a break-in when he confronted Lovell at gunpoint. Lovell is accused of shooting Owen once in the head before standing over him and firing several additional fatal shots.

Anderson was the second deputy to arrive on scene, and opened fire on Lovell after the suspect pointed a firearm at him, officials have said. Anderson shot and wounded Lovell, who tried to steal Owen’s patrol car before fleeing the area on foot, according to prosecutors.

Lovell is accused of breaking into a nearby home and holding two teenagers hostage at knifepoint for an hour. The teens were able to text their mother and contact deputies while coaxing Lovell into stepping outside of the home. Lovell was captured a short time later.

Lovell had been arrested 11 times prior to the shooting, twice landing in state prison, officials have said.

Owen, a 29-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, was beloved in the Lancaster area he patrolled. Dozens of people came forward to praise Owen in the aftermath of the shooting, even some who the sergeant had previously arrested.

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