A man who was convicted of murdering an alleged romantic rival and a woman he mistook for his ex-girlfriend in a Southern California condominium was sentenced on Friday to two consecutive life sentences without possibility of parole.
Jamon Buggs, 47, of Huntington Beach, was convicted last month of two counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances and other felonies for the April 20, 2019, murders.
Prosecutors said Jamon Buggs shot Darren Partch, 38, and Wendi Miller, 48, in a fit of jealousy.
Buggs’ defense attorneys have never disputed that he killed the couple. Instead, they argued that Buggs committed the murders in the heat of passion and should be convicted of a lesser charge.
During his sentencing, relatives of the victims cheered as Buggs was led out of the courtroom, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
“Darren and Wendi were killed for no reason,” prosecutor Todd Spitzer said. “The monster that shot them in the head didn’t care about their lives or the lives that were shattered into a million pieces the second he pulled the trigger.”
The Orange County Register said Buggs apologized to the victims’ family before he was sentenced.
Personal trainer charged with double murder has been ordered to be held without bail. Vikki Vargas reports for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 29, 2019.
“I’m sorry this happened, I apologize, I’m responsible for what I did,” Buggs said. “I have sinned and I ask your forgiveness.”
Before the hearing, a judge ruled that Spitzer violated the state’s new racial justice law when, during a meeting about whether to seek the death penalty for Buggs, the prosecutor asked about the race of Buggs’ former girlfriends.
Spitzer argued that race was an issue because Buggs mistakenly thought Partch was dating his ex-girlfriend, who is white.
Spitzer said Buggs was obsessed with his ex-girlfriend and would have continued to kill suspected rivals if he hadn’t been caught.
Buggs had previously threatened Partch twice, warning him to stay away from his girlfriend, and Partch agreed even though he denied having a romantic relationship with her, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Buggs, a personal trainer, killed Miller, who was from Costa Mesa, after bringing Partch back to his Newport Beach condominium, authorities said.
“The defense argued it was mistaken identity because Buggs’ ex-girlfriend had wavy blonde hair like Wendi Miller and the murders were committed in a dark room in the middle of the night,” the prosecutor’s office said.
About 18 hours after the murders, Buggs climbed onto a balcony and attempted to break into an Irvine apartment he mistakenly believed belonged to a chiropractor he suspected also had a relationship with his ex-girlfriend, prosecutors said.
He was spotted and fired a shot before fleeing but returned the following night. Police were watching the apartment and arrested him after a high-speed chase and lengthy search of the neighborhood, authorities said.