LOS ANGELES – A parolee charged with gunning down a Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant outside a Lancaster apartment complex two years ago and threatening the life of a deputy pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder and other counts.
Trenton Trevon Lovell, 29, of Lancaster, is charged with the execution-style killing of Sgt. Steve Owen, 53, who was shot five times on Oct. 5, 2016, in the 3200 block of West Avenue J-6.
Lovell is also accused of pointing a weapon at sheriff’s Deputy Zachary Anderson as he arrived at the scene, using Owen’s patrol car to ram Anderson’s vehicle and then fleeing to a nearby home occupied by a 19-year-old woman and her 17-year-old brother, where the suspect holed up for about an hour before fleeing.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty against Lovell, who remains jailed without bail while awaiting his next court appearance on Jan. 10.
At a hearing in June in which the defendant was ordered to stand trial, sheriff’s Sgt. Guillermo Morales testified that an emergency medical technician told investigators he heard Lovell say he wished his handcuffs were off “so he could kill more deputies.” Morales said the EMT also told authorities that Lovell, who was taken to a hospital for a gunshot wound to his shoulder, said he was “glad he killed the deputy.”
The siblings who were inside the home that Lovell allegedly entered told investigators that the suspect “started to break down and cry” and told them he had “killed a cop,” according to sheriff’s Sgt. Marc Boskovich.
Lovell was arrested after jumping over a wall to a nearby home. During a videotaped interview with investigators later that day, Lovell confessed to fatally shooting Owen after the sergeant told him to “freeze.” A portion of the interview was shown during the earlier court hearing.
Lovell — who described himself as a “two-striker” on parole — told investigators that he turned around and opened fire after he saw Owen standing outside his patrol car with his gun drawn, and said he wanted to disable Anderson’s patrol car so he could flee from the scene afterward, sheriff’s Detective Karen Shonka testified in June.
Under cross-examination, the detective said Lovell told investigators he did not want the sergeant to die.
“He told you he had remorse?,” one of Lovell’s attorneys, Monica Thelen, asked.
“Yes,” the detective responded, noting that Lovell cried during points of the interview.
The murder count against Lovell includes the special circumstance allegations of murder of a peace officer in the performance of his duties and murder for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest.
He is also charged with one count each of attempted murder, burglary and possession of a firearm by a felon and two counts each of first-degree residential robbery and false imprisonment by violence — the latter of which includes a knife use allegation.
Owen — a 29-year department veteran who was well-known for his community involvement — was among those responding to a call of a possible burglary in progress nearby when he broadcast over the police radio that he had the suspect at gunpoint.
At the hearing in June, Anderson testified that he heard three to four pops that sounded like gunfire before he arrived at the apartment complex.
“I saw Sergeant Owen laying on his back and a male black standing over him,” the deputy testified before identifying Lovell in court.
The deputy said he yelled at Lovell to “get on the ground” and that Lovell “pointed the gun that he was holding at me.”
Anderson said he immediately opened fire and began shooting at the defendant, who got into Owen’s patrol car, accelerated toward him and rammed into his patrol car. He said he had to move out of the way because he feared that Lovell was “going to attempt to run me over,” and that both vehicles were disabled as a result of the crash.
The deputy said he re-loaded his weapon as Lovell fled through the apartment complex.
Anderson said he lost sight of Lovell when the suspect jumped over a fence, so he returned to try to render aid to Owen after another sheriff’s unit pulled up nearby.
“He was still breathing. He had a pulse,” Anderson said.
“Was he responsive at all?” Deputy District Attorney Michael Blake asked.
“No,” said the deputy, who went with the sergeant as he was rushed in an SUV to a hospital.
Owen’s killing prompted an outpouring of support for his family and remembrances of Owen’s unwavering dedication to his job and commitment to the community. Law enforcement officers from as far away as New York and public officials,including Gov. Jerry Brown,attended his funeral service. A section of State Route 14 in the Antelope Valley was dedicated in his name on the one-year anniversary of his death.
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