A man accused of attempted murder was so highly skilled that if he had wanted to kill someone, he would have done so, his attorney told jurors at the beginning of the trial.
Weldon McDavid served as a U.S. Marine for 12 years, according to his attorney, and worked as a gun instructor and security consultant prior to meeting Diana Lovejoy.
McDavid was hired to teach gun skills to Lovejoy and installed a security system in her home. Now, the two face criminal charges for conspiring and attempting to kill Lovejoy's estranged husband, prosecutors allege.
Represented by separate attorneys, Lovejoy and McDavid sat in a North County courtroom Monday as jurors heard opening statements in the trial.
They each face charges of attempted first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
The bizarre shooting involved a contentious and expensive legal battle over child custody for Lovejoy and her estranged husband, Gregory Mulvihill.
Mulvihill was shot in September 2016 along an isolated access road off Avenida Soledad in Carlsbad. Prosecutors alleged Mulvihill was lured there by Lovejoy and McDavid as part of a murder plot.
Lovejoy's attorney told jurors Monday the couple amicably settled their divorce three months prior to the shooting. The couple shared 50/50 custody of their son.
However, prosecutors say Lovejoy was in financial trouble after attorneys' fees.
There was also a restraining order in place as well as an allegation of domestic violence at the time of Mulvihill's separation from his ex-wife, Mulvihill testified at a pre-trial hearing.
On Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, at 10:45 p.m., Mulvihill received a mysterious phone call from a man with a deep voice promising documents the victim “would want to see." A package of the documents would be taped on a utility pole along an access road.
When he went to investigate with a friend, Mulvihill saw a man laying on his stomach in a sniper position with a rifle pointing at them, prosecutors said. The distance between them was approximately 60 feet.
The man with a rifle fired one shot, striking Mulvihill under his arm. The victim and his friend ran from the area and called 911.
The phone number used to call Mulvihill led investigators to a so-called “burner phone” that prosecutors allege was purchased by Lovejoy.
Lovejoy, a software technical writer, faces charges in the shooting even though she didn't fire a weapon because prosecutors allege she was involved in the planning and execution of the attempted murder.
"At no time was there a discussion, an agreement, a plan, a conspiracy to murder her husband," Lovejoy's attorney Brad Patton told jurors Monday.
Carlsbad Police Detective Scott Stallman, who interviewed Lovejoy and McDavid, testified in a pretrial hearing that when he first asked McDavid if he shot Mulvihill, McDavid denied it.
When Stallman explained to the defendant that there was DNA that linked him to the crime scene, McDavid changed his story.
That DNA came from a towel used after McDavid defecated near the shooting scene, prosecutors said. The towel with an Angry Birds character on it was folded and left on the ground.
Carlsbad police said McDavid, an employee at a shooting range in Oceanside, had been teaching Lovejoy how to shoot.
McDavid admits he called Mulvihill and pretended to have evidence proving spousal and child abuse, defense attorney Rick Crawford told jurors. The attorney explained that his client was trying to be helpful.
However, he was not planning on killing Mulvihill. If he were, he would have completed the task, Crawford said.
“Marines are taught if they wanted to kill someone two to the mass, one to the head,” the defense attorney said. “He’s charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Something he could have done if he had been hired to do so or had chosen to do so.”
McDavid had been told Mulvihill used drugs, abused his wife and his child and owned a firearm, Crawford added. So, McDavid armed himself as a precaution.
Both McDavid and Lovejoy have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
If convicted, McDavid could 50 years to life in prison while Lovejoy faces 25 years to life.