Desert Hot Springs man convicted of 2nd degree murder

Man claimed he acted in self-defense

POSTED: 11:53 PM PDT Jul 22, 2013    UPDATED: 11:53 PM PDT Jul 22, 2013 
INDIO, Calif. -

A man who claimed he killed a Los Angeles County resident in self-defense during a scuffle at a Desert Hot Springs apartment building was found guilty Monday of second-degree murder.

Jurors deliberated about one court day before convicting La Von Albert
Myers, 37, of Desert Hot Springs, who is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 23.

Myers was arrested a few days after the June 26, 2012, shooting death of
46-year-old Whittier resident Ronald Locke in the 68000 block of Calle Azteca.

Locke went to the apartment complex with a female friend who wanted to
confront another woman about a past incident in which the friend's niece was
pepper-sprayed, according to Deputy District Attorney Sylvia Choi.

They went to Myers' girlfriend's apartment to find the woman allegedly
involved in the pepper-spraying, and Myers and his girlfriend told Locke and
his friend to leave, according to Choi. The woman refused to leave and got into
an argument with another man in the apartment, the prosecutor told jurors.

Myers went to his apartment, which was in the same complex, and got a
gun, according to Choi. He again asked the woman to leave, but she refused and
they began to struggle, with Myers landing punches, according to Choi.

Locke, who had previously stepped outside, went to check on the woman,
Choi said.

``He steps inside and says, `What is going on? Leave her alone, she's a
woman,''' said Choi, who said that Locke wasn't armed. ``At that point, the
defendant points the gun at the victim and shoots.''

Myers shot Locke four times, Choi said, noting that a shot in the back
reached his heart.

``And all the victim did was get in there and say, `What are you doing?
She's a woman,''' the prosecutor said.

Myers' attorney, James Goldstein, said Locke's friend wanted to ``even
the score'' with the woman she thought was involved in the pepper-spraying of
her niece. She and Locke pushed their way into Myers' girlfriend's apartment,
where the woman who Locke's friend was seeking had locked herself in the
bathroom, according to Goldstein.

``Mr. Locke says, `(Expletive), don't come out of the bathroom or I'm
going to get you.' It's at that point the defendant walks/runs to his
apartment, grabs his gun and starts to return,'' Goldstein said.

On his way back, Myers saw Locke outside, pointed the gun at him and
asked him to leave, then asked Locke's friend to leave when he got back to his
girlfriend's apartment, according to Goldstein.

``She says ... `What are you going to do, shoot a woman?' and at that
point she charges the defendant.'' Goldstein said.

The woman knocked Myers against the wall; a few people, including Locke,
joined in and there was a struggle for the gun, according to Goldstein, who
said Myers got the gun and shot at Locke.

The defense attorney said ``every effort'' was made to get Locke and the
woman to leave before the shooting happened, and told jurors they would
``have to decide if one has the right to protect his family, friends, and
protect his home.''

Myers was being held in lieu of $2 million bail at the county jail in