An disagreement over County Supervisor Jeff Stone kicked off an argument that climaxed in the Dec. 21, 2011 fatal Murrieta bar shooting, a witness testified today.
Dayle William Long, 42, a former sheriff's deputy, allegedly killed French Valley resident Sam Vanettes, 36, during an argument at
To read the initial report of what happened,
Long was at the bar alone with a friend that night. When Long's friend left, the victim invited Long to play darts, according to Danny Burnside, 38, a friend of the victim.
Burnside took the stand today during a preliminary hearing at Southwest Justice Center in French Valley.
"He's a people type person. He says, 'I'm going to invite him to our table,'" Burnside recalled Vanettes saying that night.
Vanettes was with three friends that night: his sister, April Vanettes, her boyfriend, Burnside, and another friend, Chris Hull.
After the group finished their game, Hull invited Long to the bar for some shots, where they drank several, Burnside testified.
Afterwards, they returned to the group's table, where they ordered another pitcher of beer and continued drinking, he recalled.
Conversation turns ugly
They were having a pleasant conversation until the drinks began to affect Long, Burnside said.
"It seems like maybe the alcohol was kicking in, he got real quiet," the witness said.
The conversation turned when Long said he would pay anybody $1 million to run against Jeff Stone, Murrieta's representative on the County Board of Supervisors.
Stone is known best in Temecula for his opposition to Liberty Quarry and for proposing Riverside and several other conservative-dominated counties secede and form a seperate state.
To read about what he said about Liberty Quarry, To read about his plan to divide California,
Burnside asked Long what he did for a living to be able to afford to make such an offer. "He said, I don't need to know about what he does," the witness said.
Burnside asked where Long lives, but the deputy again avoided the question.
The topic of Jeff Stone "came out of nowhere," Burnside said, and somebody changed the conversation.
Sam Vanettes tried to tell Long where he grew up, which was a neighborhood in Orange County -- but they began arguing about the layout of the local roads, according to Burnside.
"They kind of went back and forth about the streets," Burnside said.
The former deputy accused Vanettes of lying about where he grew up, and the victim told Long he was getting out of line. "He said, 'I don't know what's going on, Dayle. We were having a good time, but you're turning into a (jerk)."
Long responded in a hostile way. "We can take it outside," Burnside recalled Long saying.
The victim's sister got up and stood between the victim and Long trying to break up the argument, but Burnside pulled her away.
Then, he said told Long, "We don't want any problems. It's time for you to leave and go somewhere else."
Then, Long pulled out a handgun. "I looked down, and he had a gun close to his body pointed at me," Burnside said. "He said, 'I'm a cop, you need to step back.'"
Burnside stepped back, and Hull walked up to Long and said, "What are you doing with a gun in a bar?" Burnside recalled.
An employee of the bar called 911 at this point, but it was too late to stop the shooting, witnesses said.
'What are you going to do, shoot me?'
The employee told Long he called 911, and he said, "Good, call 911, all these (people) are going to jail. This one's going to jail for assault, this one's going to jail for battery," Burnside recalled the former deputy shouting.
"That's an assault right there. That's an assault on a police officer. You're going to jail," Burnside said the deputy was shouting as he shoved Hull repeatedly with his left hand with his right hand clutching his down-pointed pistol.
The deputy then took a few steps back, turned and noticed Sam Vanettes was near him. Long pointed his handgun at him.
"What are you going to do, shoot me?" Burnside recalled Vanettes saying.
Long opened fire.
"I could see the impact on his chest… and a headshot, his head snapped back," Burnside said.
Long fired four or five times in rapid succession before stopping, pulling out his cell phone and making a call, Burnside said.
Investigators later found five shells that came from the same kind of gun found on Long. To read details that link Long to the shooting,
Alcohol fuels both sides of fight
Defense attorney Jeff Zimel was skeptical of Burnside's story, asking whether their judgement might have been slanted due to their inebriation.
If Long was acting hostile and incoherent, "can't the same be said for you and Chris Hull?" Zimel asked Burnside.
The witness left out numerous details from his testimony that imply Hull may have been exacerbating the confrontation.
"Didn't Chris (Hull) say, 'Put that gun down, and I'll kick your (butt)?'" Zimel asked him. "Didn't he also say, 'I'll take that gun and shove it up your (butt)?'"
Burnside admitted his friend made the first statement, but said he didn't remember the second.
During an investigation shortly after the shooting, Burnside told investigators Long was calling for the bartender to call 911, according to Zimel.
Other witness reported Hull was drunk and acting aggressively, according to Murrieta PD Sgt. Phil Gomez.
Will stand trial
Judge Timothy Freer today determined during the hearing today that there was enough evidence against Long for him to stand trial for the alleged murder, District Attorney Spokesperson John Hall said.
If convicted, Long faces 50 years to life in prison, Hall said.
Long, in custody on $1 million bail at Southwest Detnetion Center, was scheduled for an information arraignment March 19, when he will be formally charged, Hall said.
Long faces one count of murder with an enhancement of discharging a firearm causing death, Hall said.