A Carlsbad woman and her gun instructor were handed lengthy prison sentences Wednesday for what authorities said was a botched plot to kill the woman's estranged husband — who was shot but survived.
Superior Court Judge Sim von Kalinowski sentenced Diana Lovejoy to 26 years to life in prison for her conviction late last year of conspiracy to commit murder, as well as attempted murder.
Weldon McDavid Jr. received 50 years to life in prison because he was the one who pulled the trigger and shot the victim on a dark, dirt path in Carlsbad. The victim, Greg Mulvihill, survived.
The shooting happened in September 2016, as Lovejoy and Mulvihill were wrapping up a contentious divorce and bitter custody battle over their son. Deputy District Attorney Jodi Breton argued that Lovejoy manipulated McDavid into the shooting with false tales of abuse.
During their sentencing hearing Wednesday, each denied that a murder-for-hire scheme ever existed.
"There was no intent to kill," McDavid said. "That's not who I am."
Lovejoy, who cried during her statement to the judge, said she would never take her son's father from him.
"I could never be able to do that," she said, "and it's so painful that some people in the world would think I would have it in me to do this."
Each said that trial testimony about them had been untrue, and each picked apart evidence against them.
"I have seen so many things go wrong with this system," McDavid said. "This system is broken."
The jury, McDavid said, "got it wrong."
Lovejoy said she hopes "the higher reality of what we intended to do comes out, and I believe it will someday." She did not say what that "higher reality" was.
After hearing both speak, Breton, the prosecutor who tried the case, told the judge that the pair were blaming others.
"What you hear is it's everybody else's fault but their own," Breton said. "There's no accountability to what they actually did."
The prosecutor called Lovejoy "manipulative," "narcissistic," and "completely self-absorbed."
"She has shown that she will stop at nothing," Breton said.
Mulvihill, who has custody of his son, was in court but did not speak. He left shortly after hearing his ex-wife's sentence.
When the couple split in summer 2014, Lovejoy alleged that her husband had sexually abused her and possibly their very young son. The family court initially ordered supervised visitation for him, but after investigation dropped that and gave Mulvihill shared custody.
After Wednesday's sentencing hearing, Breton said none of the allegations against Mulvihill had been true, that they were "purely a manipulation" by Lovejoy to gain sole custody.
In summer 2016, after a long legal battle, Lovejoy and Mulvihill had come to an agreement. They would share custody of their then-3-year-old son, and Lovejoy would pay Mulvihill $120,000.
But about 11 p.m. on Sept. 1, 2016, Mulvihill was lured to a dark trail off Avenida Soledad near Rancho Santa Fe Road in Carlsbad and shot in his side.
Months earlier, Lovejoy had met McDavid at the Oceanside gun range where he worked, and he later installed a security system in her home. And though he was married, they were intimate a few times, according to testimony.
On the night of the shooting, McDavid — using a burner phone he told Lovejoy to buy — called Mulvihill shortly before 11 p.m. and pretended to be a private investigator.
He told Mulvihill that he could provide evidence showing that Mulvihill was abusive, something that could be used against Mulvihill in the divorce.
The caller told Mulvihill he would leave that evidence on a pole along a dirt path of Avenida Soledad, near Rancho Santa Fe.
There was no such evidence. It was a trick.
McDavid testified that the idea behind the ploy was that if such a sketchy phone call could lure Mulvihill to a dark spot late at night, it showed that he must be guilty of something. McDavid said he thought Lovejoy could use that against Mulvihill in the custody battle.
Mulvihill showed up with a friend. They had a small baseball bat and a bicycle light as they headed down the dirt road and reached the pole. Mulvihilll began to shine the light around the area.
The shot came when Mulvihill spotted McDavid lying on his stomach in the bushes, wearing camouflage and pointing a long-barrel gun at him.
The prosecutor argued that the expert gunman pulled the trigger as a hired hitman. McDavid testified that he was just trying to shoot out the light in Mulvihill's left hand, fearing that Mulvihill had a gun.
The former Marine and School of Infantry instructor testified that had he intended to kill, he could have easily done so — a sentiment he repeated in court Wednesday. Striking Mulvihill, he said, was an "accuracy error."
Lovejoy did not testify. But during her sentencing Wednesday, she said she felt that her voice was not heard during the trial.
The judge later said to her, "You said you had no voice. That's your choice." Earlier in the hearing, he had said there was "sufficient evidence to support the verdict."
Last November, moments after hearing the verdict read, Lovejoy collapsed and was taken from von Kalinowski's Vista courtroom on a stretcher. When court resumed, McDavid put his head in his hands and cried on hearing his verdict.
Afterward, some jurors said they did not buy McDavid's testimony. One also pointed to testimony from Lovejoy's aunt, who said that about a year before the shooting, her niece asked if she knew someone who would scare or kill her husband.
5:25 p.m.: This story was updated with additional details. It was originally published at 11:35 a.m.