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Defense to Rest Monday in Trial of Off-Duty Sheriff Accused of Gunning Down Bar Patron

Dayle William Long could face 50 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations in the Dec. 21, 2011, fatal shooting of 36-year-old Samuel Vanettes of Winchester.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

The defense is expected to rest its case Monday in the trial of an off-duty Riverside County sheriff's deputy accused of gunning down an unarmed patron at a Murrieta bar during an argument.

Dayle William Long could face 50 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations in the Dec. 21, 2011, fatal shooting of 36-year-old Samuel Vanettes of Winchester.

The trial got underway Nov. 13. Long has been on the witness stand since Monday.

The ex-lawman, who remains held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta, has testified that he fired in self- defense, believing his life was in danger.

According to a trial brief filed by the prosecution, at least 11 people witnessed Long shoot Vanettes at point-blank range inside Spelly's Bar & Grill at 40675 Murrieta Hot Springs Road.

The victim had gone there with his sister and several friends to socialize, prosecutors said.

The brief states that Long had joined a retired colleague for drinks at the pub several hours before the attack. During the evening, Vanettes approached the defendant and asked if he would like to join in a game of team darts because the victim's group was a person short.

Long's colleague left, and the off-duty lawman joined the group, continuing to drink beer and hard liquor, prosecutors allege.

Shortly before 8 p.m., Long and Vanettes became embroiled in a seemingly insignificant argument about whether a certain street was located in Orange County. Vanettes's friend, Danny Burnside, told investigators that the defendant became belligerent and invited Vanettes to "go outside" and fight.

Long allegedly stood up, removed a compact .45-caliber handgun from his waistband and leveled it at Vanettes and his friends, then sat back down, according to court papers.

The 44-year-old defendant has denied pulling his gun until the actual shooting.

Vanettes's friend, Chris Hull, stepped in front of the defendant and shouted an expletive, gesticulating as if he was prepared to fight him, a bar patron told detectives.

All witnesses acknowledged that Long began backing away from the table where Vanettes and the group were seated and that Vanettes approached Long, seemingly in an attempt to defuse the situation.

No punches were thrown, though the bartender said there was some shoving, and while several witnesses described Long as appearing "upset," most witnesses said he was acting "calm" as he backed toward the bar exit, according to the brief.

The prosecution alleges that Long pulled his .45 a second time, leveling it at Vanettes from at least five feet away and firing six times, including once after the victim had fallen to the ground. Long testified that Vanettes attempted to grab his pistol and take it from him.

Vanettes was hit by four bullets -- in the chest, shoulder, abdomen and cheek, according to an autopsy. He died at the scene.

According to the brief, Long was waiting outside the establishment when Murrieta police officers arrived and surrendered. The 10-year law enforcement veteran initially refused to submit to a blood test to determine his level of intoxication -- four hours after the shooting -- but was told that he had to comply pursuant to sheriff's department policy. The test showed he was right at .08 percent blood-alcohol content, prosecutors said.

Long last worked as a bailiff at one of the three downtown Riverside courthouses. The sheriff's department fired him in March 2012.

—City News Service

Justice For All December 08, 2013 at 07:21 PM
I'm betting on a guilty verdict by Wed. afternoon.
BRUNO TRAVANTI December 09, 2013 at 09:46 AM
I'm betting and praying on everyone having a very Merry and Blessed Christmas !
Thresher 200 December 09, 2013 at 10:44 AM
50 years to life? Is that it? No death penalty?
John J. Smith December 09, 2013 at 12:13 PM
He will survive inside because they segregate ex-cops from the rest of the population. This guy should be hung, he misused the trust and authority place in him.
Local Resident December 09, 2013 at 12:14 PM
Rebuttals, closing statements, deliberations. He should be on his way to Pelican Bay by Friday.
Justice For All December 09, 2013 at 01:26 PM
Maybe he could spend some time in the OC jail... rumor has it that they keep things clean with Ajax: http://lakeforest-ca.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/accused-serial-killer-apparently-died-from-ingesting-ajax
Thresher 200 December 09, 2013 at 01:29 PM
There's an outside chance that he could get manslaughter with special circumstances... I don't believe he'll be going to Pelican bay. The crime was terrible, but Pelican Bay is reserved for mass murderers...basically the most evil of evils. Sending him there is an overkill.
BRUNO TRAVANTI December 09, 2013 at 03:15 PM
"Probably send him the Chino" "the Chino", where's that? Anyway, I'm just praying on everyone having a very Merry and Blessed Christmas !
Thresher 200 December 09, 2013 at 06:35 PM
Chino is mainstream. They won't put cops in a prison like that. He'll go to Corchran in Central CA. This is the special prison for cops, raper, child molesters and Charles Manson. Chino is more for drug dealers, bank robbers, etc. Chino is near Pasadena.
BRUNO TRAVANTI December 10, 2013 at 02:37 PM
I'm just praying on everyone having a very Merry and Blessed Christmas, including Steven's High School English teacher !
Thresher 200 December 10, 2013 at 03:29 PM
Steve, I'm not going to argue with you about locations. If there's an armed off duty Sheriff online, we'll both be dead.

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