Update: John Danner given 40 years for murder of mother’s boyfriend
Update posted Oct. 27
–John Steven Danner, 25, of Paso Robles, was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison, according to reports. He was found guilty last month in the murder of his mother’s boyfriend. He was sentenced to 15 years to life for the murder and then an additional 25 years to life for the use of a firearm.
Danner shot 47-year-old Billy Don Law on Feb. 7 at their residence in rural Paso Robles after an argument over candles, reports say.
Original story posted Sept. 29
– At 1:30 p.m. Monday, a San Luis Obispo County jury returned a verdict of guilty in the murder trial of 25-year-old John Steven Danner, who was charged with the death of 47-year-old Billy Don Law on Feb. 7, 2015 at their joint residence in rural Paso Robles, according to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney. The jury also found true an enhancement that alleged Danner personally used and discharged a firearm in the commission of the murder.
The incident reportedly occurred after Law and Danner’s mother, Christine Ruda, got into an argument over candles. Law reportedly had said to stop using candles though the house had no electricity. Danner and a friend, Robert Little, who also lived at the house, say that they were burning garbage in a bin in the backyard.
After hearing the argument, Danner reportedly went into his bedroom and brought out two handguns from a safe, a.45 and a .357 revolver that Danner said he was taking to Little. Danner confronted Law, who was standing naked in the dark outside Ruda’s room, at which point Danner said something like, “Leave her alone or I’ll shoot your ass.” Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham says Danner shot Law eight or nine times while he was standing, and then another four or five times when he was on the ground “to make sure it was done,” according to the report.
Ruda was taken to Twin Cities hospital with a bullet wound. She said that she may have been standing behind Law during the incident. Danner pleaded not guilty to one count of murder with enhancement of using a firearm causing great bodily injury and death at his arraignment on Feb. 19, 2014.
The trial before Judge Michael Duffy of the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court began Sept. 8 and lasted three weeks. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 27.
Danner faces a mandatory term of 15 years to life in state prison for the murder conviction plus an additional 25 years to life in state prison for the discharge of a firearm during the commission of the crime.
Detectives from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office led the investigation of this case and Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham led the prosecution team.