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Klau Mine murder: Suspect pleads not guilt 

Update Feb. 19, 2014: John Steven Danner, 23, of Paso Robles appeared in court Tuesday and plead not guilty to the charge of murder with enhancement of using a firearm causing great bodily injury and death. He is accused of killing his mother’s boyfriend Billy Don Law, 47.


Paso Robles man accused of murder

John Steven Danner makes court appearance, mother says he saved her life

John Danner paso robles shooting

John Steven Danner, 23, of Paso Robles.

Original story: On Thursday, less than a week after allegedly shooting and killing his mother’s boyfriend, the suspect John Steven Danner, 23, of Paso Robles appeared in court for his arraignment, which was postponed until next Tuesday. Nearby, his mother, Christine Ruda, 51, sat in the audience as a sign of support, according to news reports.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 7, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office received a call from a local hospital notifying deputies that doctors were treating a victim of a gunshot wound. Deputies headed out to the scene and began investigating a shooting incident in the 700 block of Klau Mine Road in rural Paso Robles.

The Coroner’s Unit of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s office later identified the victim as 47-year-old Billy Don Law. Danner was booked into County Jail on one count of murder. Ruda was later identified as the person that had been treated and released from the hospital with a non-life threatening gunshot wound.

Authorities say that Danner, Ruda, and Law lived together in the rural house with a friend of Danner. Investigations are ongoing regarding claims by Danner that the shooting occurred while he tried to protect his mother, who was accidentally shot by Danner in her left arm, according to reports. When referring to the incident and her son’s involvement, Ruda told reporters outside the courtroom that her son saved her life, according to reports from KSBY News and the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

During the sheriff’s investigation, it was determined that Law had knocked out one of Danner’s teeth during a fight three or four weeks prior to the shooting, according to reports. On the night Law was killed he had argued with Ruda because he thought Danner was carelessly burning candles in their residence, according to reports. The house lacks electricity. It was later determined that Danner was in the backyard burning wood and trash.

Danner asked the two other adults to stop arguing, brandished at least one handgun, and fired the gun when he was approached by Law in a fearless manner, according to reports. Law was hit by 10 bullets, according to a coroner investigator.

A report obtained by Paso Robles Daily News from the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s office says that Danner is being charged with one count of murder, a felony. The report says the charge includes an enhancement of using a firearm causing great bodily injury and death.

Danner is expected to enter a plea of not guilty at his appearance on Tuesday. He remains in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail without bail.



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About the author: Reporter Meagan Friberg

Meagan Friberg is a reporter for the Paso Robles Daily News and A-Town Daily News.