Saturday, May 24, 2014
Black actor Michael Jace has been formally charged with one count of murder with a gun in the shooting death of his wife
April Jace, 40, died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to preliminary autopsy results. The death was ruled a homicide by the Los Angeles County coroner, Deputy Chief Coroner Ed Winter said. Jace, 51, made his appearance in a Los Angeles courtroom where bail was set at $2 million, and his arraignment was continued until June 18, 2014 at the defense's request. Los Angeles police detectives presented their evidence against Jace, who played a Los Angeles cop in TV's "The Shield." Police found April Jace shot to death in her south Los Angeles home, Det. Lyman Doster said. Michael Jace called 911 to report that his wife had been shot, Det. Dean Vinluan said, adding that he "was on the phone with the operator." Neighbors who heard gunshots also called 911, he said. "At this moment, the motive of the murder is believed to be domestic violence," a police statement said. Investigators detained Jace at the couple's Hyde Park-area home and booked the actor on a homicide charge, according to Doster. Two children were in the home when their mother was shot, Vinluan said. The children were taken to a police station and then handed over to a representative of California's Department of Children and Family Services, he said. A woman described as a close friend of Jace's first wife said in a sworn statement that she witnessed Jace physically abusing his wife in 1997. The declaration 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 declaration. Jace "was raging and out of control, and seeing the extent of his anger was one of the most terrifying things I have ever seen," she said. Jace appeared to be suffering severe financial strain in recent years, according to court documents. The actor filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in March 2011, citing $500,000 in debts and an annual income of around $80,000 from residuals from his TV and film work, the documents said. Jace had defaulted on the $411,000 mortgage on the south Los Angeles home where his wife died, according to the documents. He married April Jace in June 2003, a year after divorcing his first wife, with whom he shared a son who is now a teen. The FX police drama "The Shield" was 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. He acted on several episodes of "Southland," another TV drama about Los Angeles police, between 2009 and 2012. Jace often played a law enforcement or military officer on television shows. He is credited with roles in "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Private Practice," "The Mentalist," "Burn Notice" and "NYPD Blue." He had the title role of Michael Jordan in the 1999 TV movie about the NBA star, "Michael Jordan: An American Hero." Jace played Officer Brown in Russell Crowe's 2009 film "State of Play," and he portrayed a Black Panther member in the 1994 blockbuster movie "Forrest Gump." April Jace had worked for the past year as a financial aid counselor at Biola University, a private school in La Mirada, California, according to the school.