The boyfriend of Sundance TV reality star Loredana Nesci was found guilty Friday of second-degree murder for fatally stabbing her in her Redondo Beach, California, home in 2015 .
The jury announced the verdict against Robert Reagan, 53, after three days of deliberations.
“He was pretty stoic as the verdict was read,” Los Angeles County prosecutor Allyson Ostrowski tells PEOPLE. “When the jury left, he cried a little bit.”
Sentencing is scheduled for September 19; Reagan faces 16 years to life in state prison.
“I think there was overwhelming evidence in the case and it was the right verdict,” says Ostrowski. “I am very grateful for the jury. I am glad she can rest in peace.”
Ostrowski says Nesci, the 47-year-old star of the reality series Loredana, Esq., and Reagan were on the verge of breaking up when she was found dead in her bedroom on July 22.
Ostrowski suspects that Reagan killed Nesci because “he wanted to avoid an expensive and bitter custody battle”
Ostrowksi says Reagan went through an expensive and litigious divorce with his first wife and didn’t want to go through with another one.
During the two-week trial, Ostrowski told the jury that Reagan “gutted” the former LAPD officer and bodybuilder with a “Rambo-style” hunting knife. Her injuries were so severe that her insides looked like “Swiss cheese,” according to the Daily Breeze, and her abdominal wound was 7 inches long.
Prosecutors believed Reagan killed Nesci around 3 a.m. — five hours before he called 911. In the interim, he called his sister in San Diego and asked her to come pick up his son, and he took a shower.
“There was blood evidence in the shower drain in the bathroom,” she says.
Reagan took the stand in his own defense and denied that he intentionally killed Nesci, alleging she was accidentally stabbed after she threatened him with a knife.
He told jurors that a fight between them began after they had sex that morning and she hit him. He said they got into a verbal argument and after she punched him, he retreated to the bathroom and locked himself inside.
He said when he stepped out of the bathroom she came at him with a hunting knife.
“She did a sort of blood-curdling ‘Get the f— out of the house,’ ” Reagan said. “She held the knife up and took a step toward me.”
Reagan testified that he fought to get the weapon from her and during the struggle she fell on the knife, mortally wounding herself.
“She made a noise,” Reagan said. “She made like a loud scream.”
Reagan said she continued to grapple with him for about 30 more seconds and then told him, “I’m dying.”
He told jurors that he tried to resuscitate her but it was too late.
“I turned her over,” he said. “Her eyes were open and her mouth was open. Her stomach was wide open and her intestines were hanging out …
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“I kind of lost it. I became very emotional. I was screaming, ‘No!’ and I was shaking her. I punched on her chest and I tried to blow in her mouth. … She was dead.”
He described the deadly incident as a “tragic accident.”
A medical examiner was also called to testify and said that the knife wound that killed Nesci caused four wounds that damaged her bowel, intestines, and a kidney. She also had defensive wounds on her hand.
‘She Was Brilliant’
After her death, but before Reagan’s trial friends of Nesci said that she was ready to move forward with her life without Reagan.
“She was brilliant, beautiful, loving, kind, selfless and so positive, even when things weren’t ideal she would stay positive,” friend April Moore previously told PEOPLE. “When I talked to her Friday, even though her relationship was not going as planned, she was positive. I told her that was one of the things I admired the most about her.”
“The time had come for Robert to move out, she was ready to move forward with her life,” Moore says.
Another friend, Laura Riffel, said the couple, who had been dating for more than seven years, bickered — but nothing that would lead her to believe there would be violence. “They were like the Bickersons,” Riffel previously told PEOPLE. ” It was never vicious or insulting. I would have never said I totally saw this coming. I just can’t even tell you, it makes zero sense to me.”
Friends said Nesci was a tough attorney who had a huge heart for special causes, including animal rights. “Her patron saint was Wonder Woman,” said Riffel. “She wanted to save the world.”
“She would help anyone, anytime without questioning it,” Moore said.
The main love of Nesci’s life was her son, according to her friends. “She was an amazing mother and loved Rocco more than anything in the world,” Moore says. “Everything she did was for him. They were so close, my heart breaks for him.
“She would coach him in baseball and loved taking him to games. Rocco went everywhere with her. She was planning on taking him to Italy.”
Ostrowski says Rocco now lives with Nesci’s parents in Connecticut.