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Actor Michael Jace pleads not guilty to killing wife

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Michael Jace, who played a conflicted cop in the cable television drama "The Shield," on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to a charge of murdering his wife last month, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said.

Jace, 51, is accused of shooting and killing his 40-year-old wife April on May 19 in their South Los Angeles home before calling authorities to report an emergency.

The actor, who was dressed in a yellow prison jumpsuit, was ordered to stay away from his two young children if he is able to post his $2 million bail.

Jace is due back in Los Angeles Superior Court for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 1. A call seeking comment from Jace's attorney, Jason Sias, was not immediately returned.

If convicted, Jace faces a minimum sentence of 50 years and a maximum life sentence in state prison.

The couple's two children, both younger than 10, were home at the time of the shooting and are now in the care of relatives, police said.

Authorities have not said what may have prompted the shooting.

Jace, who has appeared mostly in supporting roles on television in the past 20 years, is best known for portraying the sexually conflicted Christian police officer Julien Lowe on the FX cable drama "The Shield" from 2002 to 2008. He also had small parts in the films "Forrest Gump," "Boogie Nights" and "Planet of the Apes," among others.

April Jace had worked in the financial aid office at Biola University, an evangelical Christian university southeast of Los Angeles, for the past year.

Jace has been in Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection since 2011.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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