DEL NORTE — Double homicide suspect Daniel M. Bessey, 41, appeared briefly before Rio Grande County Judge Patrick Hayes Jr. Thursday, but did not speak publicly.
Sporting a burr haircut and trimmed beard, the slightly built defendant wore a bright orange jumpsuit and shackles. Bessey faced the judge, briefly wore a sound enhancing device, then declared that he could hear what was said.
A long haul truck driver by occupation, Bessey is represented by the State Public Defender, who filed a notice of invocation of the right to remain silent and to revoke consent to search his person or real property or personal property. That was not argued Thursday.
The people are represented by Special Deputy District Attorney Daniel W. Edwards of the Colorado Attorney General’s Violent Crime Team. Edwards led the prosecution of John Caudle, who killed his mother and stepfather several years ago.
The judge did grant a motion to limit pre-trial publicity, also called a gag order, limiting dissemination of information or opinion by lawyers on either side, law enforcement officers, investigators for the prosecution or defense, court personnel or any official directly connected with the case.
Statements made in court and anything that would otherwise be a matter of public record are available to the press and other interested parties.
This information may include the name, age, residence, occupation and family status of the accused; the identity of crime victims; the fact, time and place of arrest, resistance, pursuit and use of weapons; a description of the physical evidence seized, other than a confession, admission or statement; the nature, substance and text of the charge; the scheduling or result of any step in the judicial proceedings.
Bessey has yet to publicly enter a plea.
Arrested last month in Beckham County, Okla., where he was working as a truck driver, Bessey is next ordered to appear in court at 1:30 p.m. March 7, for a motions hearing that does not involve evidence, as well as to possibly set a date for a preliminary hearing.
He is accused of shooting to death John Salazar, 54, and Sarah Janay Beasley, 29, in the early morning hours of Feb. 13, 2012, at the home they shared at 530 Lyell Street in Monte Vista. An affidavit filed with the court indicates that Beasley’s young sons allegedly saw their mother killed by a masked man dressed in black who put a finger in front of his lips to silence them.
Beasley suffered several small-caliber gunshot wounds to her left armpit area, then a bloody wound to her midsection, allegedly inflicted while at least one of her sons watched. She was found on the floor of the north bedroom of the residence.
Salazar was found in the yard, with his upper torso underneath a pickup truck in the driveway. He suffered several wounds, including one to the head.
Court documents state that Bessey is the biological father of Beasley’s youngest son, Edward, and was upset about several issues, including the fact that Beasley’s older sons were calling Salazar "dad," Salazar had Edward’s hair cut, and that Beasley refused to change Edward’s name on his birth certificate and social security card. Documents also reveal that Beasley wouldn’t allow Bessey to have overnight visits with the child.
At one point, police reports indicate, Bessey allegedly threatened to “beat Salazar's a--.”
Bessey faces two counts of first-degree murder after deliberation, with intent; two counts of felony first-degree murder; two counts of first-class misdemeanor child abuse; one count of misdemeanor 2 child abuse; three counts of reckless endangerment; and criminal mischief.
An intriguing element of the case is that spray-painted graffiti regarding a possible drug transaction was compared with known handwriting samples of Bessey and showed points of similarity.
Court records indicate that Beasley had an on-again, off-again relationship with Beasley, who may have been planning to reunite with him at some point.
The homicides first came to the attention of Monte Vista police at about 4:30 p.m. Feb. 13, 2012, when a neighbor of the residence on Lyell St. reported that three boys had gone to her home and reported that someone had killed their mother and father.
The two older boys were placed in custody of relatives, while Edward, eventually, was placed in Bessey’s care.
Officers arrived to find neither person was breathing; cordoned off the area around the residence and began an exhaustive investigation — one that lasted nearly a year.
Authorities seized Bessey’s and Beasley’s cell phone records and studied them, even as a list of possible alibis was discovered among Bessey’s things.
An important piece of evidence discovered outside the Salazar home the night of the homicides was a flashlight belonging to Bessey, who claimed to have dropped three days earlier as he allegedly was repairing a leaky drain on Beasley’s car.
He reportedly claimed the car would not run; however, Beasley drove the vehicle to her mother’s home and then Alamosa the day Bessey claimed to have worked on it.
Bessey claimed Beasley had contacted him and told him he had left his flashlight behind; however, phone records did not bear that out.
Regarding the time of the homicides, Bessey claimed he was on the road with a delivery of beer, although his phone records indicated otherwise.
Hearings captioned Bessey v. Beasley, listed as divorce proceedings, continued for months in Rio Grande District Court, dealing with custody of the small boy, Edward.
Eventually, Bessey and his partner, Audrey Conley, were allowed to take the child to Oklahoma.
While Bessey is in the Rio Grande County Jail, Edward is reportedly still in foster care in Oklahoma. His two older brothers, reportedly, have been adopted by a paternal aunt and uncle. Their father drowned some time ago.