Michael Andrew Jace, the actor who played a cop on the gritty FX series “The Shield,” was sentenced Friday to 40 years in prison for the murder of his wife.
Jace, 53, was found guilty last month of shooting his wife to death at their Los Angeles home in front of the couple’s two young sons, the Los Angeles district attorney’s office said.
The actor was upset April Jace wanted a divorce and was obsessed with the belief that she was seeing someone else, Deputy District Attorney Tannaz Mokayef told jurors in her opening statement at trial.
Jace shot his wife once in the back after she arrived at the house on May 19, 2014, Mokayef said.
He then shot her two more times in her legs in front of their sons, who were ages 8 and 5 at the time, the prosecutor said.
Jace then called 911 and reported the shooting to the police.
His father-in-law also called 911 as he drove to his daughter’s home after receiving a message from Jace about the shooting.
“My son-in-law called me and texted me and said come get the kids because he shot April, our daughter,” he said in a recording released by the Los Angeles Fire Department.
History of domestic violence, money troubles
It wasn’t the actor’s first experience with domestic violence, according to people who knew him.
A woman described as a close friend of Jace’s first wife said in a sworn statement that she witnessed Jace battering his then-wife in 1997.
The statement was in court records from Jace’s 2005 custody case concerning his son with Jennifer Bitterman.
Jace “choked and hit” his wife and “slammed her against the wall while (their infant son) screamed in his crib next to her,” Maria De Le Vegas said in the sworn court declaration obtained by CNN.
After the divorce, Jace married April Jace in June 2003. He later suffered financial difficulties, declaring Chapter 13 bankruptcy in March 2011, according to court records obtained by CNN.
He cited $500,000 in debts and an annual income of about $80,000 from residuals from his TV and film work, the documents said.
He had also defaulted on the $411,000 mortgage on the home where he shot his wife, the documents said.
April Jace had worked as a financial aid counselor at Biola University, a private school in La Mirada, California, according to the school.
“April’s radiant personality brought great energy to the financial aid office,” financial aid director Geoff Marsh said after the killing in 2014. “Her love for helping students and families and her great work ethic earned the respect and love of her coworkers. Her smiling face and helpful spirit will be missed by all.”
Jace often played the good guy in movie and TV roles
The FX police drama “The Shield” provided the biggest and longest-running role in Jace’s 22-year acting career. He appeared in 89 episodes as Julien Lowe, who started as a rookie officer in an inner-city Los Angeles police precinct in 2002 and rose through the ranks to become a detective before the series ended in 2008, according to the Internet Movie Database.
Jace often played a law enforcement or military officer on television shows. He acted on several episodes of “Southland,” another TV drama about Los Angeles police, between 2009 and 2012.
He had the title role of Michael Jordan in the 1999 TV movie about the NBA star, “Michael Jordan: An American Hero.”
CNN’s Stella Chan contributed to this report