A judge on Thursday sentenced a man who shot his 20-year-old girlfriend in the head outside a Point Loma strip mall to 18 years to life in state prison.
Joe Bennette Conway, 44, pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder for the 2018 killing of Octavia Williams.
Conway and Williams, both Arizona residents, lived out of a car at the time and had a young daughter, who has since been adopted by Williams’ cousin.
At Conway’s sentencing, Williams’ grandmother and cousin gave victim impact statements to the court. They described the turmoil her death caused the family and the agony of having to someday explain the situation to the victim’s daughter.
Daisy Johnson, said her granddaughter was “young and inexperienced, and (Conway) knew that.” Johnson said she believed Williams had been planning to return to Arizona and chided Conway for not simply letting her go.
The shooting happened in the parking lot of a Domino’s Pizza restaurant on Point Loma Boulevard.
According to testimony at an earlier hearing, the pair entered the restaurant briefly around 10:30 p.m. They didn’t order anything and Williams used the restroom before the couple exited. In the parking lot, they engaged in a loud and heated argument, witnesses testified.
One witness said he didn’t hear what they were talking about, but saw Conway’s arm around Williams, who was trying to move away from him.
Another witness parked across the street from the strip mall said he heard a woman scream “No!” about 10 seconds before a single gunshot rang out.
Williams was found lying in the parking lot with a gunshot wound to the head. Paramedics took her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Conway was arrested less than a month later in Tempe, where police found a gun with DNA from the defendant and victim, according to San Diego Police Department homicide Detective Michael Weaver.
A cigarette butt found near the pizza place also had Conway’s DNA on it, Weaver said.