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Staff report

Sheila Marie Ritze, 42, of San Juan Capistrano, was found guilty by a federal jury on Tuesday, April 19, of felony criminal charges in connection with the October 2019 murder of a man whose body was found floating in the Pacific Ocean with bullet and blunt force trauma wounds, a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Ritze was found guilty of second-degree murder within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States and making false statements to federal investigators.

“At her sentencing hearing, which is expected in the coming months, Ritze will face a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison,” the news release said.

Ritze and Hoang Xuan Le, 40, of Fountain Valley, were convicted of murdering Tri “James” Minh Dao—who reportedly owed money to Le—while out on Ritze’s boat, docked at Dana Point Harbor.

“Around midnight (on October 15, 2019), Ritze drove her boat out into the Pacific Ocean with Le and the victim on board,” the news release said. “Le shot the victim on the boat, the victim went overboard, and Ritze and Le left the victim to die in the ocean, where he drowned. Le and Ritze then returned to Dana Point Harbor. The victim’s body was recovered from the Pacific Ocean several miles northwest of Oceanside on October 16, 2019.”

Le was found guilty by a jury in December 2021 of first-degree murder within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, conspiracy to commit murder, and using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Le faces a mandatory sentence of life in federal prison at his June 27 sentencing hearing, the news release said.

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