Two years after the murder of 40-year-old financial aid counselor April Jace, her husband, former The Shield actor Michael Jace, is set to go on trial. Jury selection began Monday.
Jace — who is best known for his role as LAPD officer Julien Lowe on the FX television series and who also had small roles in Planet of the Apes, Boogie Nights, and Forrest Gump — is accused of fatally shooting his wife of more than 10 years at the couple’s Los Angeles home on May 19, 2014. After the shooting, Jace called 911 and turned himself in, according to authorities.
The popular Biola University counselor reportedly was shot in the back and then shot again while the couple’s two young sons watched, the Associated Press reported. The boys were unharmed. At the time, police said the murder appeared to be over a domestic dispute.
According to a search warrant, obtained by the Los Angeles Times, the couple allegedly argued about their relationship over text messages shortly before he shot her.
Recently, the LAPD used a forensic cellphone expert to “override” the security features of April Jace’s cellphone so they could look at the correspondences between the couple before the shooting, the paper said.
Jace, who filed for bankruptcy in 2011, was charged with one count of murder with a gun allegation, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. He has pleaded not guilty.
After her death, Biola University established a scholarship in April Jace’s name. The scholarship awards “underrepresented students serving or planning to serve in an urban context who have experienced or witnessed violence in their home or neighborhood.”
“April was a very joyful person,” Jonathan Seruyange, associate director of financial aid at Biola University, told PEOPLE. “She was very caring. Very joyful. Always ready to joke and laugh with people. She was easy to get to know.”
He continued: “She loved running and working out. She would sometimes work out in her lunch break and run around the track. She was part of a running team elsewhere.”
However, April’s biggest love was for her two sons. “She would talk about them and her face would light up whenever she mentioned her boys,” he said. “They would pop into the office from time to time. She was really passionate about being a good mother to her kids.”
Seruyange said he was shocked when he learned of her death. “I got a text message about it first and I had to sit in my car for a few minutes to process what exactly I was hearing,” he explained. “She was really well loved across the campus. Hearing about that kind of thing happening to someone well loved was a huge shock and something that our office all took very hard.”