A Menifee man who fatally shot his girlfriend during an alcohol-fueled altercation was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder.
Adam Michael Starkey is expected to receive 50 years to life in prison for the Jan. 24, 2012, slaying 38-year-old Jennifer Bowers.
Jurors deliberated one day before finding Starkey guilty of the murder count, as well as a sentence-enhancing gun use allegation and a misdemeanor charge of illegally possessing a firearm.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Gary Tranbarger set sentencing for May 1.
The defendant called 911 shortly after 10 on the night of the shooting, saying he had shot a woman, according to Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Todd Torrenti. Deputies rushed to Starkey’s house at 25773 Bundy Canyon Road, in Menifee just outside Wildomar's northeast border, and detained the allegedly drunken man in front of his residence, according to Torrenti.
The defendant shot Bowers with a .38-caliber Colt revolver while holding the barrel less than two inches from her forehead. The couple had been drinking heavily and squabbling in the hours leading up to the shooting, according to trial testimony.
Starkey, 32, told sheriff's investigators that at one point he walked out of the single-wide trailer with his pistol and fired all six rounds the Colt could hold into the ground to release his anger.
Deputy District Attorney Natale Pitre told jurors that Starkey went back into the trailer moments later, reloaded the gun, then approached Bowers and shot her once at point-blank range.
Starkey called 911 and reported the shooting. At the time of his arrest, his blood-alcohol level was .23—almost three times over the legal limit to drive in California.
Deputy Public Defender Michael Micallef argued the gun went off accidentally because of mishandling, including from having the wrong type of ammunition loaded into the chamber.
Starkey and Bowers worked together at a Target store and had been dating for about a year.
According to court records, the defendant has a misdemeanor conviction for driving under the influence in 2008. One of the terms of his probation was that he not own a gun for a minimum of 10 years.
-City News Service