DEL NORTE—Double Homicide suspect Daniel M. Bessey waived formal advisement last week and was expected in 12th Judicial District Court at 3 p.m. June 25 to listen as attorneys argued motions.
Prosecutors have charged Bessey with 20 offenses, including two counts of first-degree murder, for the February 13, 2012, shooting deaths of John Salazar, 54, and Sarah Beasley, 29.
The accused has yet to enter a formal plea.
Salazar and Beasley were shot to death by someone wielding a small-caliber handgun during the early morning hours as Salazar was leaving for work as a custodian at Bill Metz Elementary School in Monte Vista.
Investigators from the Monte Vista Police Department and other agencies quickly identified Bessey as a person of interest, due to the fact that he is the father of Beasley’s youngest child and there was a custody case pending; however, a number of other possible suspects were identified and vetted in the months after the homicides. Investigation is continuing.
Salazar’s family told them the defendant was upset about child custody issues, while Deputy Public Defender Jill Allen contended that Bessey and Beasley got along well with each other and often exchanged text messages. The defense contends that Bessey and Beasley were planning a future together, despite the fact that the woman was living with Salazar and Bessey was living with a woman in Saguache.
A key piece of evidence against Bessey is a flashlight found near Salazar’s body the morning of the killings. Bessey admits it was his flashlight, but claims he dropped it after he finished making a repair on Beasley’s car several days beforehand.
Bessey also claims Beasley called him or texted him to let him know the flashlight was at her place.
Investigators subpoenaed phone records of both Beasley and Bessey and found no records of any communication between the two.
One of Beasley’s children told investigators that he and his brothers were playing in the family’s yard the day before the killings and did not notice the flashlight. The two older boys told investigators they saw their mother shot to death, but could not identify the shooter, who was dressed all in black and wearing a ski mask.
The two older boys are in the care of their father’s relatives and the baby, Edward, is still in Oklahoma, where he was taken by Bessey and his woman friend between the date of the homicides and Bessey’s arrest in January of this year.
Bessey remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bond, including $25,000 cash up front.
Twelfth Judicial District Judge Martin Gonzales has been assigned to the case, while Jack Roth of the Colorado attorney general’s staff is lead prosecutor.