LOS ANGELES – A state appeals court panel on Friday upheld a man’s murder conviction for gunning down the owner of a water company during a dispute over one of the firm’s trucks blocking access on the dirt road to his home.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that jurors in Scott Russell Shipley‘s trial in Lancaster should have been instructed on involuntary manslaughter.
Jurors were instructed on first-degree murder, second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter, and found Shipley guilty in 2014 of second-degree murder for the May 15, 2013, shooting death of Christopher Demyen, the 39-year-old owner of Acton Water Co.
Shipley was driving his daughter home when he saw one of the company’s water trucks parked in front of a neighbor’s house to fill a pool and was unable to drive his vehicle past the truck, the appellate court panel noted in its 26-page ruling.
Shipley left his vehicle in the middle of the road, walked home with his daughter and then returned to the scene.
Demyen — who had arrived to talk to Shipley after he called to complain about the truck — got into an argument with the defendant that led to a fight, during which Shipley pulled out his gun and shot Demyen in the chest.
“… Defendant’s actions were neither unintentional nor merely negligent. Rather, they were clearly intentional and there was overwhelming evidence of his conscious disregard for Demyen’s life … The record contains no evidence suggesting that defendant did not fully appreciate the risk of his actions,” the appellate court justices ruled.
Shipley is serving a 40-year-to-life term in state prison.
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