Opening statements are scheduled next week in the trial of an off-duty Riverside County sheriff's deputy accused of gunning down an unarmed patron at a Murrieta bar.
Dayle William Long faces up to 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.
A jury for Long's trial was seated Wednesday, and Riverside County Superior Court Judge Angel Bermudez scheduled opening statements for 9 a.m. Tuesday. Long, 43, is jailed in lieu of $1 million bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta.
According to a trial brief filed by the prosecution, at least 11 people saw Long shoot Vanettes at point-blank range in Spelly's Pub & Grille at 40675 Murrieta Hot Springs Road.
Vanettes went there with his sister and several friends to socialize, prosecutors said.
The brief states that Long joined a retired colleague for drinks at the pub several hours before the shooting. Vanettes asked Long if he would like to join in a game of team darts because his group was a person short.
Long's colleague left, and the off-duty lawman joined the group, continuing to drink beer and 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 action elicited a sharp response from Vanettes's friend, Chris Hull, who 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 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.
Long pulled his gun 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, the prosecution alleges.
Vanettes died at the scene from wounds to the chest, shoulder, abdomen and cheek, according to an autopsy.
Long, along with other bar patrons, called 911 immediately after the shooting. According to the brief, the 10-year law enforcement veteran was waiting outside and surrendered when Murrieta police arrived. He 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