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Man pleads guilty to execution-style killing of Lancaster sergeant in 2016 ambush

A 31-year old man has pleaded guilty in connection with the execution-style fatal shooting of a Lancaster Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sergeant in a 2016 ambush, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

Trenton Trevon Lovell pleaded guilty to one count each of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first-degree burglary with a person present, and possession of a firearm by a felon; and two counts each of first-degree residential robbery and false imprisonment by violence in connection with the death of Sgt. Steve Owen.

He also admitted the special circumstance allegation of murder of a peace officer, and special allegations of using a firearm to murder Owen, using a patrol car as a deadly and dangerous weapon during the attempted murder of a second peace officer on scene, using a knife in a robbery and false imprisonment after he fled from the scene of the murder. 

On Oct. 5, 2016, Lovell ambushed and shot Owen when the sergeant was responding to a burglary in the 3200 block of West Avenue J-7, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Lovell then rammed a second deputy’s vehicle with Owen’s patrol car. Lovell ran away and into a nearby home where he held two additional victims at knifepoint and robbed them, officials said. He was eventually arrested that same day.

Sgt. Steve Owen is shown in a photo released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Lovell had previously admitted to investigators that he shot Owen in the face and then “walked up and … finished the job” by firing more rounds into the veteran law enforcement officer, according to court documents.

He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is expected to be sentenced on May 17.

Owen, 53, was a “larger than life” person who was well-known in the Antelope Valley, former Sheriff Jim McDonnell said.

He was awarded the Medal of Valor in 2014 for saving the life of a hostage who was being held at gunpoint in a car.

Owen is survived by his wife, adult sons, stepdaughter and mother.

“Sgt. Owen sacrificed his life to protect the community he served,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement. “This plea will not bring Sgt. Owen back but will hopefully provide some small measure of peace to his family.”

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