“What you hear is it’s everybody else’s fault but their own. There’s no accountability to what they actually did.”
-Deputy District Attorney Jodi Breton
It was the 1st of September 2016. A Thursday. Jason Kovach called 911. He told the dispatcher that his friend had been shot:
"He's bleeding pretty bad."
According to Jason, he was with his friend, forty seven year old Greg Mulvihill, and they were attacked at a nearby trail by a sniper. It was after 11pm and they went to a dark trail off Avenida Soledad near Rancho Santa Fe Road in Carlsbad, California, United States. Greg had been shot. He was taken to the hospital for emergency surgery. Police wanted to know why they were there at that time of night and who wanted to hurt Greg?
Police discovered that Greg was in the middle of a bitter divorce and custody battle with Diana Lovejoy. Diana was a software technical writer and they had a three year old son together. Greg and Diana met in 2005 on a dating site and for a time seemed like a good match. They both liked the outdoors and going for walks and hiking and they married two years after they met. In 2012, they had their son and their relationship began to deteriorate after that. Greg was made unemployed and Diana was the sole provider in the house. She began to complain that she was suffering with chronic fatigue and told others that she believed her health was fading.
Diana believed she had fibromyalgia and believed that her son had an illness and that took its toll on their marriage. They decided to divorce in 2014. By 2016, the divorce was still not finalized but they were both working and co-parenting their son.
Police spoke to Jason to try to ascertain why they went to that trail that night. Jason told them that Greg got a call that night from a man who claimed he was a private investigator. The caller told Greg that he had uncovered information that may be of assistance in the divorce proceedings and custody hearing and that he would give him one opportunity, just one chance, to see what it was and he would leave the documents on that trail.
When Greg got the call, he found it so suspicious that he called the Carlsbad Police Department's nonemergency number and told the dispatcher about it. He asked the dispatcher if the call seemed odd and the dispatcher agreed they were unusual but did not seem concerned. Despite that, Greg himself was a little concerned and asked Jason if he would go with him. Jason agreed.
The caller gave directions and told Greg he would leave the documents at a power pole on the trail. As it was very dark, Jason and Greg brought a flashlight and a baseball bat with them. According to Jason, when they got there, they heard a rustling sound in bushes and saw a man hiding in the bushes wearing camouflage clothing. He was lying flat on his stomach and was pointing a rifle at them.
The two ran from the scene, but the man fired multiple rounds and one of them hit Greg. He was shot once under the armpit.
Police went to the trail and found a towel covered in feces and they sent it off for DNA analysis.
Greg survived the surgery and he told police that he and Diana were having issues for years. He confirmed that the divorce was not amicable. He told police about Diana's belief that she was ill and their son was ill and she seemed convinced of it even though medical professionals told her she was wrong. Police discovered that Diana made even more sinister claims relating to Greg himself. In 2014, when she believed she was suffering with chronic fatigue, she would wake up groggy and sore in the morning. Diana told a friend that she believed Greg drugged her and raped her while she was unconscious.
Diana obtained a temporary restraining order against Greg based on false accusations that he had sexually assaulted her and their son.
Due to the false accusations Greg was denied access to his son for a period, he was then granted supervised visits and when the accusations were determined to be unfounded, he was granted unsupervised visits and was given 50 percent custody of their son.
In June 2016, Diana and Greg entered into a marital settlement agreement that allowed Diana to keep the family home and in return, she would give Greg $120,000 within 90 days of the execution of the agreement and it could be from either refinancing their residence or the proceeds of the sale of a condominium unit.
Throughout the period of their separation, Diana started firearms training at the Oceanside gun range. She met a man there called Weldon McDavid. Weldon was her gun instructor. The relationship was a professional one initially and Diana was just Weldon's client but she then began to confide in him about problems she was having at home, problems with Greg and other personal details and they grew close. She told Weldon she was afraid of Greg and asked him to install a security system in her home. He agreed.
Weldon was a married man but that didn't stop him having an affair with Diana. He was very close to her and any time the Court did not grant something in her favor, he was furious on her behalf. That led police to believe that if Greg was targeted and shot, Weldon may be able to provide some answers.
The only evidence police had from the scene where the shooting took place was a rifle round jacket on the sidewalk near the power pole, the jacket was consistent with having been fired from an AR-15, and a towel that they had sent off for DNA testing. Now that they were aware of Weldon's involvement with Diana, they tested it against his DNA. It was a match. Police obtained a search warrant for his home and found the gun used to shoot Greg. Police still had one thing to establish. If Weldon shot Greg, did he do it alone or did Diana help?
They traced the phone that was used to call Greg and it was a burner phone. Police obtained security footage from the Best Buy where it was purchased and saw that Diana was the person who purchased it.
Police questioned Diana. She admitted she bought the phone but said that Weldon was assisting her with getting full custody of her son only and claimed that she would never hurt Greg. But police didn't believe her. They believed that Diana hired Weldon in a murder for hire scheme to kill Greg. They were both charged with conspiracy to commit murder and premeditated attempted murder.
Weldon and Diana had a joint Trial. They both pleaded not guilty.
It was the Prosecution’s case that it was a murder for hire scheme. Deputy District Attorney Jodi Breton argued that Diana manipulated Weldon into shooting Greg due to lies she told him about abuse she suffered at the hands of Greg. Abuse that simply did not happen.
The Court heard about the divorce, custody battle and the accusations Diana made against Greg.
The Prosecution called Diana’s aunt, Diana Clark, to testify. She testified that on Christmas Day in 2015, she met her niece at a restaurant. Diana asked her if she could help find someone who would kill Greg. She told the Court that Diana “had it all figured out." She told Diana that she did not know anyone who could help her.
The Court heard that Diana met Weldon at the shooting range where he worked. He gave her firearm training and self-defense lessons. They began an affair which intensified in November 2015 and they exchanged multiple calls and texts. It was the Prosecution’s case that some point prior to the 15th of August 2016, Diana and Weldon made a plan to kill Greg. Their plan involved luring Greg to an isolated spot where Weldon could shoot him. Diana agreed to pay Weldon $2000. $1000 would be paid prior to the shooting and the balance afterwards.
The plan involved Weldon calling Greg to arrange to meet him and to do so, he told Diana to buy a burner phone which she did. The Jury were shown the security footage of Diana purchasing a Tracfone from a Best Buy store on the 15th of August 2016.
The Court heard that on the 1st of September, Weldon used that phone to call Greg. Diana dropped Weldon off at the trail where he had arranged to meet Greg. She gave him two of her son’s towels so that Greg would believe the caller knew his son if he saw them on the trail.
The Court heard about the DNA evidence that the Prosecution had. Weldon used one of the towels to wipe himself after defecating and police obtained DNA from the towel.
The night of the shooting, at 10.30pm, Weldon called Greg. He said he had documents that would help with his divorce and help him with the custody of his son. He gave him directions to the area.
The Court heard that when Jason and Greg arrived at the location, they walked along the path toward the power pole, where the caller said he would leave the documents, which was about 150 feet away. It was very dark and they could only see a little bit in front of them with the help of the flashlight. They heard a rustling sound in the bushes and saw a man dressed in camouflage clothing. He had a sniper rifle and was pointing it at Greg.
The two men, Greg and Jason, ran away. Greg felt something hit him in the back but he didn’t realise he had been shot until he was in the car with Jason.
The Court heard about Greg's injuries. Greg sustained entry and exit wounds from the gunshot. The entry wound was below his right armpit. Two bullet fragments were removed from Greg's back. A CT scan showed small metallic fragments throughout his chest and active bleeding in his axilla. The emergency surgery saved his life as the axilla can be a potentially lethal area. It contains major arteries, veins, and nerve structures and if they are injured, they could cause a person to bleed to death.
The Court heard that Weldon called Diana after he shot Greg. She picked him up and he told her he had messed up.
The Court heard about the gun found in Weldon's home and in Weldon’s Jeep, the police found a camouflage jacket and black pants that appeared to have dirt and plant material on them.
It was the Defense’s case that there was no murder for hire scheme.
Weldon admitted he was at the trail that night but claimed he was there to help Diana get full custody of their son and did not intend to shoot Greg. He testified that he met Diana in 2015 when he was her shooting instructor at the shooting range at which he worked. She told him that Greg used drugs and owned a firearm. She also told him that he was molesting their son and had raped her. According to Weldon, Diana tried to get help from the police but they did nothing.
Weldon said that in or around June or July 2016, they began to plan a way to get evidence that would ensure Diana would get full custody of their son. According to Weldon, they come up with a plan that involved him luring Greg to a secluded location so that he could videotape Greg taking the documents and he then planned to set up another meeting where he would give him a blank thumb drive that purportedly contained additional evidence of child abuse so that he could try to catch him out. Weldon told the Court:
"Anybody who's not guilty of child abuse, in my mind, would not come out at night to meet someone or to pick up any evidence that they didn't know where it came from."
He told the Court that if a phone call was enough to lure Greg to an isolated spot late at night, then he must be guilty of something.
When asked about the $2000 Diana said that she would give him, Weldon testified that the payment was for helping her gather the evidence that they could use against Greg in a future custody hearing.
Weldon testified that he never intended to kill Greg and that he only had his AR-15 with him because Diana told him Greg owned a gun.Weldon testified that the flashlight gave Greg a tactical advantage and when he shone the light on Weldon, Greg told him that he had a gun and that was why Weldon began to shoot. He said he could have easily shot Greg and killed him but didn't want to and he only shot because he wanted to shoot the flashlight so that Greg wouldn't have an advantage. Weldon told the Court that he feared for his life.
Weldon testified and told the Court that if he wanted to shoot Greg dead, he would have done so as he was a skilled marksman. The Court heard that he was a firearms instructor, a rifle, pistol, and shotgun instructor for the NRA. He had been a firearms instructor for 17 years. Weldon was also in the Marine Corps and he received firearms training there too.
Barry Reder, Weldon’s shooting student and friend, testified that Weldon could easily hit a target 100 yards away. That testimony was echoed through the testimony of other witnesses such as Christopher Lazano, who knew Weldon from the Marine Corps, and he said that Weldon would not have trouble hitting a target.
All in all, all of his witnesses agreed that if he wanted to shoot Greg dead, then he would have done so.
Weldon was described by others who testified on his behalf as a skilled, accurate, and expert rifleman while he was in the Marine Corps and was "extremely accurate" using a rifle from a prone position.
Diana did not present any evidence in her Defense. She relied on the Jury reaching the conclusion that the Prosecution did not present enough evidence to prove she was involved. They didn't reach that conclusion.
The Jury found them both guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and premeditated attempted murder.
As soon as the verdict was read aloud in Court, Diana collapsed and was taken out of Court on a stretcher and brought to hospital. Weldon cried on hearing his verdict.
At the sentencing hearing, the Judge said there was “sufficient evidence to support the verdict.” He sentenced Diana to 26 years to life in prison for her conviction. She was sentenced to an indeterminate term of 25 years to life and a consecutive one year term.
Weldon received 50 years to life in prison because he was the one who pulled the trigger and shot Greg. He was sentenced to an indeterminate term of 25 years to life and a consecutive indeterminate term of 25 years to life.
At the sentencing hearing, a tearful Diana told the Judge that she would never take her son’s father from him:
“I could never be able to do that and it’s so painful that some people in the world would think I would have it in me to do this.”
She said the she hopes that “the higher reality of what we intended to do comes out, and I believe it will someday” but did not say what that “higher reality” was.
Diana said that she felt that her voice was not heard during the Trial. But the Judge told her:
“You said you had no voice. That’s your choice.”
It was Diana's own decision not to present any evidence and not to testify. The Prosecutor said that Diana was “manipulative, narcissistic and completely self-absorbed”:
“She has shown that she will stop at nothing.”
He reminded the Court that none of the allegations against Greg had been true. Diana tried to manipulate others into believing her lies in order to gain sole custody.
Weldon told the Court:
“I have seen so many things go wrong with this system. This system is broken. The Jury got it wrong.”
Some Jurors, after the Trial, said they did not believe Weldon when he testified and one of them put great weight on the testimony of Diana's aunt.
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"The criminal justice system will take a hard look at what happened to Matthew Eappen. It is up to the rest of us to take an even harder look at who is minding our children."
- Eileen McNamara, the Boston Globe
"The effects of abuse are devastating and far reaching. Domestic violence speaks many languages, has many colors and lives in many different communities."
- Sandra Pupatello
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