Jury finds Daniels guilty on murder charge

Jury finds Daniels guilty on murder charge

From the Las Vegas Optic

A San Miguel County jury has found William R. Daniels, 63, guilty of second-degree murder in the October 2018 shooting death of 46-year-old Roman Latimer Lucero Sr.

Daniels faces up to 16 years in prison — 15 years for the murder conviction, plus an additional year for a firearm enhancement.

However, sentencing may not take place for up to 90 days, according to Fourth Judicial District Attorney Tom Clayton. The delay is because the court ordered a diagnostic evaluation, which assists in determining the type of sentence Daniels will receive.

The trial began Monday, June 28, and concluded Friday, July 2 with the jury deliberating for about 90 minutes before finding Daniels guilty, according to the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s office.

However, prior to the start of the trial, Daniels’ public defender, David Silva, filed a motion seeking a last-minute change of venue. The motion was filed in District Court on Friday, June 25, the same day an article about the trial ran in the Optic.

In the motion, Daniels’ lawyer pointed out that the article had run on the front page of the Optic, and that Daniels booking photo was “prominently displayed” on the front page as well.

The motion accused the Optic of “drawing a picture to lend sympathy to the death of Roman Lucero,” and stated the “likelihood of prejudice due to (the article) in the Las Vegas Optic mandates a change of venue.”

Prosecutors filed a response to the motion the same day, saying that it presented a “bold and unsupported conclusion that there is presumed prejudice.”

Citing several examples from case law, prosecutors argued that previous court cases have drawn clear distinctions between actual prejudice and presumed prejudice, pointing to a court’s finding that “potential juror’s exposure to pretrial publicity, by itself, does not require a change of venue and does not raise a presumption of prejudice.”

Judge Flora Gallegos denied the defence’s motion June 28, and jury selection took place as scheduled.

Daniels shot and killed Lucero around 8 p.m. on Oct. 27, 2018, following a verbal argument and physical altercation along a stretch of Highway 276 in Rociada.

A witness told police that following the physical altercation, Daniels drew a handgun and shot Lucero, who fell to the ground. The witness said Daniels continued to fire shots at Lucero once he was on the ground.

“The defendant claimed to have acted in self-defense; however, the jury found he did not act in self-defense,” Clayton said in a statement issued Friday.

Daniels fired at Lucero a total of six times with a 9 mm handgun, according to Clayton. Four of those shots hit Lucero, with two of those shots hitting him while he was on the ground.

“It was a difficult case,” Clayton told the Optic Friday by phone. “We’re pleased with the verdict this jury came down with. I think over a period of five days, they saw the facts for what they were.”