INDIO, Calif. -

A man who shot and killed a Los Angeles County resident during a scuffle at a Desert Hot Springs apartment building was sentenced today to 40 years to life in prison.

La Von Albert Myers, 37, of Desert Hot Springs, was convicted of second-degree murder on July 22 for the shooting death of 46-year-old Whittier resident Ronald Locke. Myers was arrested a few days after the shooting, which happened in June of last year at a complex in the 68000 block of Calle Azteca.

Locke went to the apartment complex with a female friend who allegedly 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 in her opening statement.

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 and his friend 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.

Myers went to his apartment to get his gun and on the way back, 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 in his opening statement.

The woman knocked Myers against the wall 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. He said jurors would ``have to decide if one has the right to protect his family, friends, and protect his home.''