San Juan Capistrano Woman Sentenced to Over 21 Years in Prison for Role in Murder of James Dao

Sheila Marie Ritze, a woman from San Juan Capistrano, was sentenced to over 21 years in prison for her role in the murder of James Dao.

In October 2019, James Dao’s body was found shot in the back and dumped in the Pacific Ocean. Sheila Marie Ritze was sentenced to over 21 years in prison for her role in his murder. Along with Hoang Xuan Le, they took Dao out on a late-night lobster-fishing trip. Dao apparently owed Le between $30,000 and $40,000, and after driving the three of them out into the ocean, Le shot Dao in the back. While Dao drowned, Ritze drove herself and Le back to Dana Point Harbor. In addition to second-degree murder, Ritze was also convicted of making false statements to federal investigators.

Prosecutors argued that Ritze’s crimes had left Dao’s family grieving and that she continued with her life after the murder as though nothing had happened. Le faces a mandatory life sentence and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 17th. At Ritze’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge David Carter called her crimes “horrific and horrendous.”