10-year term for ex-soldier in deadly date
A man who maintains he’s innocent in the 2011 death of a male escort was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter, resolving a case originally charged by a Mesa County grand jury as first-degree murder.
Billy Joe Delacey, 36, faced a maximum possible 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to reckless manslaughter under a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office, approved Tuesday by District Judge Richard Gurley.
Delacey in September 2012 was indicted for first- and second-degree murder, possession of sexually exploitative material, and theft in the slaying of 26-year-old Luis Alberto Vasquez Oliva, or “Beto,” whose body was found Aug. 1, 2011, inside his apartment at 540 29 Road, unit 6, in Fruitvale.
The indictment alleges Delacey met Oliva via Craigslist, responding to Oliva’s advertisement for male-on-male massages.
Oliva’s body was found on a deflated air mattress with a large amount of blood pooled around his head. He’d suffered multiple injuries to his face and head.
Investigators said emails established Delacey was the last person to see Oliva alive, as Oliva’s computer had evidence they planned to meet around 10 a.m. on July 31. Delacey sent photos of himself to Oliva.
Delacey’s computer showed he’d downloaded a program called “Evidence Eliminator” on Aug. 3, roughly seven hours before he was first contacted by law enforcement after Oliva’s killing.
District Attorney Pete Hautzinger on Tuesday called the case, “something akin to a hate crime,” while theorizing Delacey was a closeted homosexual dealing with a “good deal of self-hate.” Investigators found evidence of anti-gay and anti-foreigner slurs posted by Delacey to the Internet around the time of the killing.
Delacey allegedly refused to take a polygraph examination offered by deputies.
Delacey’s defense said computer and phone records presented big problems for the prosecution’s case.
There was evidence Oliva may have used his cellphone near his apartment as late as 12:09 p.m. on July 31, well after the prosecution theorized he was killed, the defense argued.
At the same time, records showed Delacey was at home in Fruita and using his computer from 12:09 p.m. to 1:46 p.m. that day.
Delacey opted to plead guilty to manslaughter in order to avoid a life sentence for a first-degree murder conviction, public defender Matt Mulch said.
He served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with the U.S. Army, earning the rank of sergeant, and told investigators he was an intelligence officer.