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Jury Finds Deputy Guilty Of Second-Degree Murder In Murrieta Killing

Deputy Public Defender Jeff Zimel expressed disappointment with the verdict, saying he expected an acquittal.

Former Riverside County sheriff's Deputy Dayle William Long speaks with Deputy Public Defender Leah Kinser on the first day of his trial, Nov. 12, 2013. (Photo by Maggie Avants)
Former Riverside County sheriff's Deputy Dayle William Long speaks with Deputy Public Defender Leah Kinser on the first day of his trial, Nov. 12, 2013. (Photo by Maggie Avants)

Dayle William Long, a former Riverside County sheriff’s deputy accused of gunning down a Murrieta bar patron while off duty, was found guilty today of second-degree murder.

The jury delivered its verdict 10 a.m. Thursday at Southwest Justice Center in French Valley before presiding Judge Angel Bermudez.

Long had been charged with one count of first-degree murder with an enhancement of discharging a firearm causing death.

Deputy Public Defender Jeff Zimel expressed disappointment with the verdict, saying he expected an acquittal.

“I think the jury … I think they got it wrong,” he said.

According to Zimel, Long is now facing a prison sentence of 40 years to life.

Today’s verdict stems from a Dec. 21, 2011 shooting at Spelly’s Pub & Grille, located at 40675 Murrieta Hot Springs Road. Long -- who at the time was a 10-year-veteran of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department -- had been drinking at the establishment when he shot Samuel Vanettes, 36, of Winchester.

When Murrieta police officers arrived on scene around 8 p.m., Long was arrested on suspicion of shooting the unarmed victim several times and killing him.

Jurors began their deliberations in the case Tuesday.The trial began Nov. 12.

During the trial, Long maintained he used his weapon in self-defense. He had been facing 50 years to life in prison if convicted of the first-degree murder charge and the sentence-enhancing allegations.

According to the prosecution, at least 11 people witnessed the defendant shoot Vanettes at point-blank range inside Spelly's. The victim had gone there with his sister and several friends.

A trial brief prepared by the prosecution states that Long had joined a retired colleague for drinks at the pub several hours before the attack. During the evening, Vanettes invited the defendant to take part in a game of team darts. The off-duty lawman parted company with his friend and joined the group, continuing to drink beer and hard liquor, according to prosecutors.

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 challenged 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.

The defendant denied pulling his gun until the actual shooting.

Another of Vanettes's friends stepped in front of the defendant and shouted an expletive, posturing aggressively, 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 in an attempt to defuse the situation.

The bartender told investigators 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, court papers state.

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. Long testified that Vanettes attempted to take his pistol from him.

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

After initially refusing, Long submitted to a blood test four hours after the shooting and 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 contributed to this report.

tom jones December 12, 2013 at 02:29 PM
The jury got this one right
Woodman December 12, 2013 at 02:32 PM
Should have been 1st degree, but ok better than not guilty.
Local Resident December 12, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Time to pack, get ready San Quentin!. It's funny how Deputy Public Defender Jeff Zimel expected an acquittal, I wonder what planet he is from....
Nancy Gilmore December 12, 2013 at 03:06 PM
So relieved that Sam's family can begin to heal.
joe scalero December 12, 2013 at 03:51 PM
Newman...with your background as a former police officer, you do understand your statement that he will be found guilty of manslaughter was incorrect...
Thresher 200 December 12, 2013 at 04:01 PM
What did I say? Huh??? Second degree. Even then, he'll be going through a rash of appeals. He's probably home right now sipping a cold beer with his attorney.
Heather Jann December 12, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Rest in peace my sweet cousin. I am glad your murderer gets to rot in prison now. An acquittal? Public defenders make me sick. Glad this trial is over....time to just enjoy memories as opposed to living his death over and over.
Heather Jann December 12, 2013 at 04:11 PM
No premeditation? He brought a loaded weapon into a bar where he got drunk...pulled the gun out twice and made it clear he wanted to hurt my cousin Sam. How is that not premeditation?
Woodman December 12, 2013 at 04:16 PM
Heather - EXACTLY!
german paz December 12, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Anyone that murders and has a second chance to think of his actions is considered a monster , family or not ..... See Ya Dayle in a Looooong time, hopefully never .....
german paz December 12, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Bringing a loaded gun legally to a bar, no it's not premeditated, flashing it twice is!!! It's saying "hey look what I have, if u don't keep talking @#$$ , then I am going to use it"..... Such Bs .... Rot in prison.
Justice For All December 12, 2013 at 08:22 PM
Premeditation can be a very vague and confusing gray area of the law for a lay person to understand. It can consist of a measure of time from weeks or days, to minutes or seconds. The argument in this case boiled down to mere seconds. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The fact that Long was armed when he entered the bar that night does not demonstrate that he plotted to murder anyone. The prosecution attempted to convince the jury that premeditation occurred in a matter of moments between the time that Long drew his weapon, then decided to shoot. This is where there is a significant challenge for the jury to decide. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Clearly, the jury determined that there wasn't sufficient evidence to support the idea that Long took time to consider his intentions of murder. They may have decided that the fact that Long was calmly backing away from the group towards the door was his intent to avoid shooting anyone. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- IMHO, the decision was fair and justice was served. It's the best we can expect given the circumstances.
Rob Murillo December 12, 2013 at 09:14 PM
@Steve Newman.. Your earlier response to me would of been correct had the cockroach not premeditated it... I still believe He premeditated it because he had already brandished his gun.. giving him time to think of how he was going to handle the situation...that my friend is called premeditated.. now if the jury didn't see it that way well then that's something else.. I think he got off easy with second degree.. Sam was a good friend of mine and I know he would of never tried to reach out for an officers weapon.. As for the cockroach you are where you belong!
joe scalero December 12, 2013 at 10:26 PM
Helloooooooooooooooo Newman..... I believe the Seinfeld Newman character played a security guard just like your current career...................your defense of Long is: "Not an evil monster on a power trip but a person who was put into a situation that nobody on this patch would know how to get out of"........ I think your own words say it all about your character and beliefs....pathetic
german paz December 12, 2013 at 10:49 PM
Beverly, any guy would be sarcastic in that matter Because THEY WOULD BELIEVE THAT A FREAKIN OFFICER OF THE LAW WOULDN'T SHOT THEM!! The video clearly shows the victim with his hands up (which means a surrender if you live in America) and he still chose to shoot and unarmed man.
german paz December 12, 2013 at 10:49 PM
*an
Rob Murillo December 12, 2013 at 10:52 PM
@BL ,I would reach for him... I know when someone (especially a drunken Creep) pulls a gun its not for show and tell.. chances are he is going to use it.. I would be the one that would of most likely have been shot at or fought with.. but Not Sam.. putting your hands in the air is not reaching for the weapon... and justice has prevailed.. But nice try ....
southernbelle December 12, 2013 at 10:59 PM
*2cents* being from the south, we carry guns like we carry packs of gum. One thing is for sure, there's a different sort of respect down south for fire arms than what there seems to be here in CA, in my opinion. Though this former Deputy knew what that gun was capable of, I'm not so sure he knew what he was capable of. At least not on that night. Anger, Alcohol, and fire arms are just never a good mix. This whole ordeal is/was tragic for everyone. Blessings to all the families involved.
Ty Stanonis December 13, 2013 at 01:32 AM
Shooting anyone 6 times is not self defense... Especially not from 5 feet away with the "victims" hands in the air. I am a supporter of gun rights, but this is excessive force all day long. I don't see a reason why a concealed carry permit holder shouldn't be able to bring a gun with him into a bar. But to make a decision to drink while carrying? Setting yourself up for failure. If the accounts are true that he brandished his pistol first and then put it away then he should have been up for first degree. Number one rule in concealed carry is never let anyone know your carrying. The only time you draw that weapon is to defend a life! This was a provoked incident fueled by alcohol. A pissing war between men acting like children. He should have gotten life in a Juvenal detention center. On a side note, I am glade to see that Friends and family from both sides are expressing their feelings in public and for the most part not acting childish themselves. This was a "lose lose" situation for both men. I'm also impressed that this hasn't turned into another "take everyone's guns" argument. I personally feel that we should allow more concealed carry permits to be issued to the public. In general, permit holders are law abiding citizens that steer clear of trouble at all costs. Due to the liability that comes with that special permission. If it were commonly known that at any given moment you were most likely in close proximity to someone that was carrying, maybe criminals might think twice before doing something stupid.
german paz December 13, 2013 at 05:39 AM
Amen ty
southernbelle December 13, 2013 at 01:27 PM
yep…what he said! ^^^^^^^^^^ and that's exactly the way it should be! Gun toting comes with a high degree of respect for "it" not you. *beware- rabbit trail* Also, I don't know what this "pissing war" was all about, but this goes to show all of us how high strung, stressed out, and angry/reactive many of us are. People are "snapping" way too much; road raging, Brawlmart-ing, provoking each other, etc. for no real good reason. It's time to all just calm down and get a hold of what's really important; Smaller houses, shorter commutes, dinner around the table, kids baseball games, and a drive in the country once in awhile. *deep breath*

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