A Louisiana man who strangled and stabbed the man who molested his girlfriend when she was a child was convicted of second-degree murder Thursday afternoon.
The Advocate reported that Jace Crehan, 23, (pictured left) faces an automatic term of life in prison for the 2015 slaying of Robert Noce Jr., 47 (pictured right). Noce dated the mother of Crehan’s girlfriend, Brittany Monk, 20, and pleaded no contest to molesting Monk when she was a child.
Monk claimed she lived with Noce and his daughter for 10 years after her mother left him and saw him as a father figure, according to WAFB.
Noce entered the plea shortly before his death and was sentenced to five years’ probation. Days after the murder, Crehan told detectives that he killed Monk’s molester because he believed the criminal justice system had “failed” her.
“I feel a lot better. It’s not regret,” Crehan told investigators.
“Is it remorse? I’m not sorry for what I did.”
Monk testified that she and Crehan only meant to scare Noce when they broke into his trailer on July 4, 2015. The situation quickly escalated when the pair attacked a sleeping Noce and Crehan began strangling him during the physical altercation, WAFB also reported.
Monk, who was seven months pregnant at the time, reportedly admitted to spraying Noce with cologne while screaming, “You ruined my life.”
Monk said Crehan then instructed her to get a knife. She recalled getting the “biggest” knife she could find–and Crehan using it to stab Noce multiple times in the bathroom.
Reports indicate that Crehan then took a belt, wrapped it around Noce’s neck, and put his foot on the man’s neck as he pulled the belt upward for about a minute. The pair put Noce’s body in a 55-gallon drum that he used to make wine and discarded the knife in a lake.
In line with his comments to investigators, Crehan recalled telling his pregnant girlfriend, “I know what I did wasn’t wrong,” The Advocate reported.
The defense unsuccessfully argued that the incident was an “act of passion” as Crehan believed Noce was a threat to his pregnant girlfriend.
“We don’t believe this is second-degree murder. We believe it’s something else,” defense attorney Franz Borghardt told a jury Thursday.
“There was a loss of control. When they confronted ‘daddy’ it was just too much.”
However, prosecutors characterized Crehand’s actions as “vigilante” justice that has no place in civilized society. They also noted that Noce posed no threat to anyone as he slept in his trailer.
“We do not live in a country where we as a society are allowed to take the law into our own hands to do justice,” Darwin Miller said during closing arguments Thursday. “That’s what happened here. This is not a Shakespearean tragedy. This is not a Hollywood movie.”
“This is the killing of a human being, whether you like him or not.”
Monk pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in June for her role in Noce’s death and will be sentenced next month.
Crehan’s sentencing is scheduled for January 18.
[Featured Image: Jace Crehan and Robert Noce Jr./East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office]