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.
Diana Lovejoy, 45, collapsed after hearing she had been convicted of the conspiracy charge as well as attempted murder, prompting a judge to clear the courtroom so Lovejoy could receive medical attention.
The judge had not yet finished reading the verdicts for co-defendant Weldon McDavid, Jr., 50. He, too, faces an attempted murder charge.
The jury was allowed to consider assault with a deadly weapon, instead of attempted murder, for both defendants.
Lovejoy did not testify during the trial, in the Vista courtroom of Superior Court Judge Sim von Kalinowski. McDavid did.
There was no dispute that McDavid pulled the trigger and shot Greg Mulvihill on a dark dirt path in Carlsbad about 11 p.m. Sept. 1, 2016.
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 after Mulvihill spotted him lying on his stomach in the bushes, pointing a long-barrel gun at him.
McDavid 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 just under his left armpit.
At the end of the trial, which ran for less than two weeks, Deputy District Attorney Jodi Breton told the jury that McDavid was trying to kill the San Marcos man at the urging of Lovejoy.
Attorneys for the two defendants refuted any claims of a murder-plot, and said there was no evidence of such.
Lovejoy and 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.
Lovejoy, a software technical writer, met McDavid at the gun range where he worked. He later installed a security system in her home.
McDavid testified that Lovejoy agreed to pay him for evidence she could use against Mulvihill in the custody battle — not to harm him.
Using a burner phone Lovejoy bought, McDavid called Mulvihill and pretended to be a private investigator shortly before 11 p.m. on the night of the shooting. He told Mulvihill that he would provide Mulvihill with evidence proving that he 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.
But when Mulvihill arrived, he had brought a friend and a flashlight. And that, Breton argued to the jury, thwarted the murder plan. Plus, she said, even though McDavid is an expert gunman, paper targets don’t move, but people do.
McDavid said he was trying to shoot out the light, because Mulvihill has spotted him, and could have had a gun.