Magician Convicted in Nightclub Parking Lot Shooting Death of Woodcarving Artist

A 55-year-old Big Bear business owner was convicted of first-degree murder Monday in the shooting death of a man in a nightclub parking lot.

Frank Popovich Jr., known as a magician in the mountain community east of Los Angeles, shot and killed  43-year-old James Clark in April 2016, according to prosecutors. A confrontation between Popovich Jr. and the victim before the shooting was caught on a security camera, prosecutors said.

The two were involved in a dispute in the nightclub that spilled into the lot, investigators said. Popovich was out of the camera's view when a gun muzzle flash is seen on the video as the victim dropped to the ground, prosecutors said.

The gunman could be seen smoking a cigarette as he stood over the victim's body, prosecutors said.

The victim worked at Popovich's Big Bear business, which sells novelties, crafts and has a magic shop. Friends called Clark a respected and beloved artist who did not seem to have problems with others.  

Popovich faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in state prison at sentencing next month.

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