Man gets 18 years to life for killing 20-year-old girlfriend

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A 2018 photo shows Joe Benette Conway, who pleaded guilty to shooting his girlfriend in a parking lot on West Point Loma Boulevard and was sentenced to 18 years in prison in June 2021.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A man who shot his 20-year-old girlfriend in the head in the parking lot of a Point Loma strip mall was sentenced Thursday to 18 years to life in state prison.

Joe Bennette Conway, 44, pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder for the Oct. 9, 2018, killing of Octavia Williams.

Conway and Williams — who were both Arizona residents — were living out of a car at the time and had a young daughter, who has since been adopted by Williams’ cousin.

At Conway’s sentencing hearing, Williams’ grandmother and cousin gave victim impact statements to the court, in which they described the turmoil her death has caused the family and the agony of having to someday explain to her daughter what happened to her mother.

Williams’ grandmother, Daisy Johnson, said the victim was “young and inexperienced, and (Conway) knew that.” Johnson said she believed her granddaughter had been planning to return to Arizona and chided Conway for not simply letting her go.

The shooting happened in the parking lot of the 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 to the parking lot, where they became 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 containing DNA from the defendant and victim, according to San Diego Police Department homicide Detective Michael Weaver. A cigarette butt found near the Domino’s Pizza also had Conway’s DNA on it, Weaver said.

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