A 27-year-old woman with two children and one on the way was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Thursday for killing a man she never met.
Lashyla Schoonover, 27, of Irving, was convicted of murder this week in the shooting death of Lawrence “Sonny” Gomez outside the Arbors apartment complex in the 3700 block of Vaucluse Drive in northeast Fort Worth.
During the punishment phase of the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Schoonover was a prostitute and sold drugs, including prescription pills, Ecstasy and marijuana, a news release from the Tarrant County district attorney’s office said.
The jury also heard that Schoonover had previous arrests for burglary and unlawfully carrying a weapon. Several years ago, while living in Tulsa, she was shot, the release said.
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According to testimony, Schoonover has a longtime girlfriend, is married to a 73-year-old man and is pregnant with the child of another man who is incarcerated, the release said. Schoonover’s elderly husband testified that he met Schoonover online when she was 17, and he provided financial assistance for her and her two children. In exchange, Schoonover agreed to take care of him someday, the release said.
Her trial was prosecuted in state District Judge Elizabeth Beach’s court by Tamla Ray and Anna Hernandez, who presented evidence that Schoonover, another woman and two men — Richard Hernandez, 30, of Arlington, and Chauncey McCallum, 30, of Irving — were riding around in Schoonover’s vehicle on July 15, 2013, when they stopped at the apartment complex and learned that Gomez was inside, the news release said.
They asked a passerby to tell Gomez to come outside. When he did, one of the men began arguing with him, the release said. Schoonover jumped out of the vehicle and began firing her 9mm Beretta at Gomez, whom she had never met. One of the men with her also started shooting, but the bullets from Schoonover’s gun were the only ones that struck Gomez, once in the chest and once in the back. A dozen rounds were fired, the release said.
McCallum said Gomez had once pulled a gun on one of his friends, which triggered the bad feelings among the men, prosecutors said.
“Although it may be hard for some to believe that a woman could act in such a violent and callous way, the jury saw through the defendant’s ‘helpless little girl act’ and held her fully accountable for Sonny’s murder,” Ray said. “The jury saw the value in Sonny’s life and provided his family with the justice for which they’ve waited for over a year.”
Prosecutors had offered Schoonover 50 years in prison in a plea bargain on the murder charge, which she rejected, according to court documents filed with the Tarrant County district clerk’s office. She faced a maximum sentence of 99 years or life in prison.
The jury began deliberations in the guilt-innocence phase of the trial on Monday afternoon and returned the guilty verdict Wednesday morning. The punishment phase began Wednesday.
Schoonover advertised herself as a model on various websites. On one website, she said she was 24 with the leadership skills of people twice her age. The website post identified her as a mother of two children and a successful business professional who built a massage spa “from nothing to an established business with a monthly gross in excess of $10,500 in less than 5 months.”
Both McCallum and Hernandez are in Tarrant County Jail awaiting trial. Hernandez’s bail totals $550,000. Bail for McCallum totals $350,000.
Schoonover was defended by attorneys Mark Scott and Adam Burney.
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752