The trial date for a former Riverside County sheriff’s deputy accused in a fatal 2011 shooting at a Murrieta restaurant may be closer to being set.
A pretrial hearing took place Monday for Dayle William Long, 44, who was an active sheriff's employee but reportedly off duty the night of Dec. 21, 2011 when he allegedly pulled his gun out during an argument at Spelly’s Pub & Grille and shot at Samuel Vanettes. The 36-year-old victim died at the scene.
Long, who remains jailed on $1 million bail at Southwest Detention Center near Murrieta, could face 50 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder along with sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.
During Monday’s proceeding, a courtroom was assigned for Long’s trial—an indicator that the start date may be drawing closer, said John Hall, spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. An Oct. 30 court date should provide a more solid timeline for the case to be heard by a jury, Hall said.
Long’s trial has been continued several times since July 2012 for a number of reasons on behalf of the prosecution and defense. The latest continuance, court records show, was requested by Murrieta police, whose detectives will be called to testify.
According to testimony from the 44-year-old defendant's March 2012 preliminary hearing, he was drinking at Spelly's Pub and Grille at 40675 Murrieta Hot Springs Road when a group of people playing darts invited him to join them. While they were socializing, an argument broke out between the off-duty deputy and a friend of Vanettes, witnesses said.
The exchange turned confrontational, but at no time did any of the bar patrons become physically aggressive toward the deputy, who initiated the altercation, according to witnesses.
"It was all verbal," Deputy District Attorney Dan DeLimon said at the time. "No one ever pushed, touched or shoved Dayle Long in any way."
As the argument escalated, the 10-year law enforcement veteran allegedly pulled a compact .45 semiautomatic pistol and opened fire, striking the unarmed Vanettes in the midriff and head.
Long surrendered without incident when Murrieta police arrived. He most recently worked as a bailiff at one of the three downtown Riverside courthouses. At one point, he had also been assigned to the sheriff’s dive team.
—Mirna Alfonso contributed to this report.