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A California Woman Invited A Man Out On A Late-Night Lobster-Fishing Trip. Then He Drowned After He Was Shot And Dumped In The Ocean.

doj fishingboat

Courtesy Justice.gov; Nick Karvounis/Unsplash

Apr. 19 2023, Published 12:02 p.m. ET

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A southern California woman who led a man on a deadly fishing trip into the Pacific Ocean will spend nearly 22 years in prison for her actions.

Sheila Ritze, 43, was sentenced Tuesday for second degree murder, in the killing of James Dao in October 2019.

Orange County court documents say Ritze drove a boat with Dao aboard on a “late-night lobster fishing trip” from Dana Point.

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Hoang Xuan Le also was aboard. Based on evidence presented at Ritze's trial, last year Dao owed Le at least $30,000. The Orange County Register indicated it was money from drug trafficking.

Federal prosecutors say once the fishing boat was away from the coast, Le shot Dao in the back. Dao landed in the ocean, while Ritze and Le went back to shore.

Dao's body was found the next day, a few miles down the Pacific coast. His death was ruled a drowning.

Le reportedly bragged to people about the killing. But federal informants heard some of what he said.

Ritze was secretly recorded during the investigation, talking about a “hit list” of potential victims. The recording was part of the evidence presented at her trial.

“I’m gonna take ’em out on my boat, they go on the boat but they are not gonna come back,” Ritze said. She indicated other people would do the killing.

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Prosecutors say Ritze eventually lied to federal investigators about what happened to Dao.

KTTV reports Le was convicted of first degree murder in December 2021. He awaits sentencing in July, and is likely to receive life in prison.

The murder trial was held in federal court because the crime occurred offshore.

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