Lawyer: Calls put his client in clear in slaying
Cellphone records show a former Fruita man charged with murdering a male escort couldn’t have committed the crime, a public defender wrote in a court filing.
“Billy Delacey is innocent,” Deputy Public Defender Matthew Mulch wrote at the start of a 30-page motion to reduce bond.
The motion asks District Judge Richard Gurley to slash Delacey’s bond from $1 million secured to $200,000 personal recognizance. Delacey, 35, who’s being held at the Mesa County Jail, would wear a global-positioning device if released and has secured potential housing in Grand Junction ahead of trial starting Jan. 13, 2014.
“Mr. Delacey recognizes that such a (bond) reduction would be a vast departure from typical practice,” Mulch wrote. “Mr. Delacey, however, also notes that being offered the chance at probation on a First-Degree Murder case is also a vast departure from typical practice.”
Delacey has rejected a plea offer by the District Attorney’s Office which included the possibility of probation in exchange for pleading guilty to manslaughter, a class 4 felony, according to Mulch’s motion.
Delacey is charged with first- and second-degree murder, possession of sexually exploitative materials and misdemeanor theft in the beating death of 26-year-old Luis “Beto” Oliva at Oliva’s apartment in Fruitvale in 2011. A grand jury indictment alleges Delacey responded to a Craigslist advertisement placed by Oliva for male-on-male massages and sex.
The Mesa County Coroner’s Office concluded Oliva was murdered sometime between 6 a.m. July 31, 2011, and 2 a.m. on Aug. 1, 2011, according to the defense motion. Oliva’s body was found on a deflated air mattress, while the autopsy indicated he suffered multiple blows to his head and face.
Prosecutors presented testimony to the grand jury that Delacey, a U.S. Army veteran who told investigators he’d served as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan, was in Oliva’s apartment between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. on July 31, 2011. While the prosecution has theorized Oliva was dead when Delacey left, phone records and statements tell another story, the defense motion argues.
A man, identified in court records as Oliva’s husband, told investigators he last spoke with Oliva on the phone around noon on July 31. Phone records show the man placed six calls, which were answered, to Oliva’s cellphone on July 31. The last call happened at 12:09 p.m.
This, as a search of Delacey’s computer showed activity from 12:09 p.m. to 1:46 p.m., at Delacey’s house in Fruita.
“These records demonstrate that Mr. Delacey was on the other side of the county while (Oliva) was still alive and speaking with his husband over the telephone regarding their relationship,” the motion reads.
A cellphone expert used by the defense concluded records show the last call — a check of voicemail — on Oliva’s phone was at 11:07 a.m.
During a bond argument May 24, District Attorney Pete Hautzinger suggested Delacey may have had Oliva’s cellphone and drove away from the Fruitvale crime scene without hanging up, according to the motion.
Again, phone records suggest otherwise, the defense argues. The cellphone tower where the call hit is at 2763 B 1/2 Road, roughly four miles from the Fruitvale apartment and “nowhere near Mr. Delacey’s home in Fruita,” Mulch wrote in the motion.
Another witness, meanwhile, told investigators he saw Oliva around 3 p.m. on July 31 outside of the complex and heard someone inside Oliva’s apartment early on Aug. 1, 2011.
“The prosecution is unwilling to accept these phone records because they know what they mean: that Billy Delacey did not kill Mr. Oliva,” the motion concludes.
The District Attorney’s Office hadn’t filed a formal response to the motion as of Friday.
Hautzinger told the judge last month he intends to hire his own expert to review the phone records. Everyone investigated in the case, except for Delacey, had alibis which checked out for the time around Oliva’s slaying, the DA told the judge.