Man Sentenced for Monrovia Bar Killing

 In blog, Crime –

Man Sentenced for Monrovia Bar Killing

by Contributing Editor

A gang member who opened fire inside a Monrovia bar, leaving one man dead and two others wounded, was sentenced Wednesday to nearly 66 years to life in state prison.

Jurors found Jeremiah LaCroix, 33, guilty last July of second-degree murder, attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a semi-automatic firearm in connection with the Dec. 2, 2017, shooting that killed Michael Lowe, a 43-year-old Monrovia father of two.

“Mr. LaCroix, you’re obviously going to have a lot of time to think about the choices you made,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo told the defendant. “Nothing good comes from gangs or the gang lifestyle … As you mature and grow older, think about the choices you make.”

The victim’s mother, Margaret, told the judge, “There is a hole in my heart that can’t be healed … I miss Michael every single day.”

She said he left behind three sisters and two children who carry the pain of losing their father.

LaCroix pulled out a gun and shot into a crowd of about 30 to 40 people after he and his older brother engaged in a verbal confrontation that escalated into a fight with several gang members inside Gem City Grill in the 1000 block of East Olive Avenue, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators.

LaCroix was not involved in the fight, according to Deputy District Attorney Arthur Leahy.

Defense attorney James Bisnow acknowledged that his client shouldn’t have had a gun that night, but said he was “using it legitimately” to defend himself.

“He was acting in self-defense,” Bisnow told jurors during his closing argument, adding that LaCroix “pursued his assailants until the danger was over” following a confrontation in which his glasses were knocked off inside the bar.

The defense attorney said there was no evidence that his client “deliberately provoked this incident.”

But the prosecutor disputed the defense’s contention that LaCroix fired in self-defense, telling jurors that the defendant — who has 10 gang tattoos — had “murder on his mind.”

Leahy contended that LaCroix left the bar, armed himself with a gun and then returned — an assertion the defense attorney denied.

The prosecutor called it “a stone-cold first-degree murder” and cited surveillance video from inside the bar in urging the jury to convict the defendant.

Seven other defendants, including LaCroix’s brother, William LaCroix Jr., and father, were also charged in the case. All of them pleaded no contest to lesser charges and all but one have been sentenced.

LaCroix’s brother and Erika Torres, 35, were arrested by Monrovia police as they fled from the bar after the shooting and were originally charged with murder, as was co-defendant Al Corro, 36. A judge dismissed the murder charge against them based on a change in state law on consequences for aiders and abettors.

LaCroix Jr., 36, and Torres each ultimately pleaded no contest to assault with a deadly weapon. LaCroix Jr. was sentenced to 11 years in prison and Torres is scheduled to be sentenced in July, according to court records. Corro pleaded no contest to assault with a deadly weapon and acting as an accessory and was sentenced to five years in prison.

LaCroix surrendered to authorities in Banning the day after the shooting. His father and mother, Ana Guerrero, both admitted being an accessory after the fact for helping their younger son avoid arrest and were sentenced to 156 days in jail and three years probation.

Other defendants convicted as accessories included 31-year-old Jacob Webb and Vanessa Michelle Gomez, 28. Webb was sentenced to two years prison time and Gomez was sentenced to six months in jail and three years probation.

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All credit goes to Contributing Editor
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