UPDATE: JonCasey Rowell, 30, convicted earlier this week of murdering Austin trans woman Monica Loera in January 2016 has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors had asked for 45.
Jurors in Travis County on Monday, Nov. 6, convicted JonCasey Rowell, 30, of murdering Austin transgender woman Monica Loera, rejecting Rowell’s claim that he killed Loera in self defense, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
The sentencing phase of Rowell’s trial was scheduled to begin today (Tuesday, Nov. 7). The first-degree felony conviction carries a possible sentence of five to 99 years in prison.
According to testimony during the trial, Rowell — who lived in Childress with his wife and, at that time, 10-day-old child — was working in the Travis County area when he contacted Loera online and arranged to pay her for sex. He went to her home then left to get condoms. When he realized he had left his vest, wallet and keys inside her house, he went back to the door and she gave him those items. He left again, but went back to Loera’s door again because he thought his wallet was not included in the items she had given him. As it turned out, though, his wallet was in fact in the pocket of his vest.
Rowell claimed that Loera had shouted through the door that she had a baseball bat, so when she opened the door, he shot her — in the neck — in self defense because he thought she had robbed him. Jurors, however, agreed with the prosecutor, Travis County Assistant District Attorney Mark Pryor, who said that the facts of the case and “common sense” showed Rowell’s claim to be “preposterous.”
Pryor said, in his closing arguments, that Rowell shot Loera to cover up the “dirty little secret” that he was paying for sex — from $100 to $400 per encounter — from his family and his church in Childress. He pointed out to jurors that by the next day, Rowell was using his phone to look online for information on how many people are able to get away with murder, and by three days later, he was back in the Austin area and again looking online for women in the area that he could pay for sex.