Jury selection is slated to get underway next week for the trial of a Riverside County sheriff's deputy accused of gunning down an unarmed patron at a Murrieta bar during an argument while he was off duty.
Dayle William Long could face 50 years to life in prison if convicted in the Dec. 21, 2011, shooting death of 36-year-old Samuel Vanettes of Winchester. Along with first-degree murder, Long faces sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.
Pretrial motions in the case began today before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Angel Bermudez, who scheduled the first panel of prospective jurors to appear at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta on Tuesday morning for screening as to their availability and qualifications.
Opening statements are expected to begin Nov. 12.
Long, 43, is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Southwest Detention Center.
According to testimony from the 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 told City News Service. "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 from his waist and opened fire, striking Vanettes in the midriff and head. The victim, whom DeLimon said was not directly involved in the dispute, died at the scene.
Long surrendered peacefully when Murrieta police arrived. He last worked
as a bailiff at one of the three downtown Riverside courthouses.
—City News Service