Police picked up Weldon McDavid a week after the shooting.
They pulled him over while he drove near his home in Fallbrook. The police and McDavid were aware that a man named Greg Mulvihill had been shot in Carlsbad, on a secluded dirt path, the night of September 1, 2016.
Two police detectives, Scott Stallman and Felix Salazar, spoke to McDavid at their Carlsbad headquarters on September 8, 2016. Their conversation in a police interview room was recorded. The video shows McDavid sitting opposite the detectives at a small, plain table. He had his back to the walls in a corner of the room, next to a door. McDavid looked defensive or stubborn: he was leaning back with his arms crossed.
The cops did not tell McDavid they already believed he was the one who phoned Mulvihill and persuaded him to go to the dark location after 11 p.m. Even though the man who called Mulvihill used a “burner phone,” an inexpensive pre-paid cell phone, investigators were still able to connect the dots. Mulvihill survived the shooting and escaped with his cell phone, so cops were able to get information from both the survivor and his phone. And now they wanted to talk with Weldon McDavid.
A confident guy
Detective Stallman asked McDavid, “What I want to know is, can you give me where you were at last week? Thursday night? From eight in the evening until midnight?”
McDavid said, “No.” He did not seem intimidated. McDavid, then 49, was normally a confident guy. He had been a Marine for 12 years and had served two tours in battle grounds overseas.
The detectives repeatedly asked if they could look at his cell phone, but McDavid declined to hand it over. “You guys are trying to accuse me,” he pointed out correctly.
But Detective Salazar denied it, “No, no we’re not.”
McDavid was not fooled. “Dude, yes you are.”
Everyone in the room knew that 45-year-old Mulvihill had survived the single bullet that had entered under his armpit and passed out his back. That was seven days earlier, and police had not arrested anyone yet. McDavid did not know what evidence the cops might have, so he was listening carefully and gave short answers.
One detective asked, “Is it possible for your DNA to show up in the area of the shooting?”
McDavid replied, “I don’t even know what the area is.”
One detective left the room and came back with a map. McDavid was shown the area, a small hill between Rancho Santa Fe Road and Avenida Soledad, with a dirt walking path connecting the two roads. McDavid said,“I don’t know the area.”
McDavid lived in a different part of San Diego County, away from the shooting scene, so his assertion that he did not know “the area” was reasonable. The detectives knew where McDavid lived; in fact, other officers had served a warrant and were searching his home at the same time he was being questioned. Police were looking for the gun used to shoot Mulvihill.
Detective Salazar decided it was time to reveal some genuine evidence they did have. It was as important and it was disgusting.
“Have you ever taken a dump out there in the woods? Like, a shit? I’m being serious right now.”
Suddenly, McDavid seemed to realize he was in trouble. “I know what you’re talking about now,” he said, taken aback but still careful.
Detective Stallman responded, “You do?”
McDavid confirmed, “Yeah.”
“Okay, explain it,” the detective invited.
McDavid was thinking fast. “I was on a dirt road, just running along, then I did have to shit.”
Salazar encouraged him, “That explains it.”
Detective Stallman wanted to know, “Where did you start your run from?”
McDavid said, “I’m not even sure because I parked my Jeep and — ”
Detective Stallman interrupted, “You’re saying September first you went for a run back there?” He pointed at their map.
McDavid: “Yeah, that’s where, yeah, because I did take a shit there.” His mind was racing: “I was feeling really bad and I... It was a short run because I got lost. After I shit I went back to my Jeep. I’m not sure what street it was on.”
The policemen pointed to their map and tried to get McDavid to explain exactly how he got to the location. They asked him from which direction he entered the dirt area. But McDavid was unsure of the street names.
His confusion about the street names might have been genuine. In reality, McDavid got a ride to the shooting spot from someone who was familiar with the area — the woman who was married to the man who was about to get shot.
Attempted murder trial
More than a year after Carlsbad police interviewed McDavid, he did reveal details of exactly where he was that night during the shooting. In October 2017, McDavid went on trial for attempted murder and testified in his own defense.
He explained to the jury that he left his Jeep at a park-and-ride near the 5 freeway in Carlsbad the night of September 1, 2016.
And then he got into a car driven by Diana Lovejoy, Mulvihill’s estranged wife. The couple was in the middle of a bitter divorce. Lovejoy and Mulvihill both lived near the area of the shooting, separately. Their divorce fight had been going on for more than two years.
At first the divorce-court judgments had favored Lovejoy, but by late 2015 the decisions started going against her. They first separated in 2014, and Mulvihill was allowed to see their young son only a few hours each week, and only with professional supervision. But eventually Lovejoy was ordered to share 50/50 custody of their only child, and Mulvihill was no longer supervised. The latest financial judgments were the worst: now she was ordered to make monthly support payments to Mulvihill. And very soon she would be required to pay $120,000 as a financial settlement to finish their divorce. That money would come from the sale of a rental condo that Lovejoy owned. Escrow was due to close soon, and her payment to Mulvihill was due in only three weeks.