LOS ANGELES (AP) — The man who shot and wounded Lady Gaga’s dog walker whilehe accepted a plea deal last year and was sentenced Monday to 21 years in prison, authorities said.
The connection to Lady Gaga was coincidental, authorities said. The reason was the value of thea breed that can cost thousands of dollars, and detectives don’t believe the thieves knew the dogs belonged to the musician.
James Howard Jackson, one of three men and two accomplices involved in the violent robbery and its aftermath, pleaded no contest to an attempted murder charge, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. It was not immediately clear which attorney represented Howard on Monday.
The pop star’s dog walker, Ryan Fischer, was seriously injured in the attack and addressed court on Monday to give a shock statement, which he posted on Instagram.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost two years since I was taking Asia, Koji and Gustav out for a night walk when, in an instant, I suddenly found myself fighting with everything I had to protect those dogs from being stolen. But it wasn’t enough: I was beaten, strangled, shot, and left to bleed to death on a sidewalk, gasping for life. And Koji and Gustav were gone.
Jackson and two others drove through Hollywood, the city of West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley on February 24, 2021 “looking for French bulldogs,” prosecutors previously said. They found Fischer with the pop star’s three pets.
Jackson shot Fischer during the robbery on the famous Sunset Boulevard, during which two of the dogs were taken. A nearby doorbell camera recorded the dog walker yelling “Oh my God! They have shooted me!” and “Help me!” and “I’m bleeding from my chest!”
Fischer later called the violence a “very close call to death” in. In her statement on Monday, she said that she is still recovering physically and mentally from the shooting. They had to remove part of her lung and she is still in physical therapy.
Fischer also addressed Jackson directly in the statement, saying he forgives him and others involved in the attack. “You completely altered my life, and I know I can’t fully move on from the night you shot me until I said those words to you.”
The stolen dogs were returned several days later by Jennifer McBride, who was also charged with the crime.
The pop star had offered a $500,000 reward, “no questions asked,” to reunite with the dogs at the time.
Jackson also admitted to charges of inflicting great bodily injury and to an earlier assault, the prosecutor’s office said Monday. The prosecutor’s office did not immediately say what the earlier attack was.
“The plea agreement holds Mr. Jackson accountable for committing a ruthless violent act and provides justice for our victim,” the office said in a statement. Howard had been charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit robbery, and assault with a semi-automatic firearm.
jackson wasearlier this year due to a clerical error. He was almost five months later.
Another accomplice, Harold White, pleaded no contest Monday to an ex-con in possession of a weapon. White, who was in a relationship with McBride at the time, will be sentenced next year. McBride’s case is ongoing.
The couple had allegedly tried to help White’s son, Jaylin White, avoid arrest after the shooting.
Jaylin White and Lafayette Whaley earlier this year did not contest the theft.
Whaley took Jackson and the young White last year on a hunt for the expensive dogs. Jackson and White jumped out and attacked Fischer, prosecutors previously said. They beat and strangled the dog walker, and Jackson pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and fired, hitting Fischer once before the trio fled.
Representatives for Lady Gaga did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Associated Press writer Andrew Dalton contributed.