Man sentenced to 22 years in hatchet murder

A man who killed another man with at least 48 blows from a hatchet during a fight at a Grand Junction river encampment was sentenced Wednesday to serve 22 years in prison.

Daniel Scott Warner, 48, could have received anywhere from 16 to 26 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the May 27, 2011, death of 47-year-old Richard Nelson, whose body was discovered in a camp near the Colorado River, east of the Pepsi Bottling Group, 140 Power Road.

An autopsy report said Nelson suffered at least 48 strikes consistent with an ax to his head and neck, including several apparent defensive wounds to his arms and hands, according to Deputy District Attorney Bart Greer. The man who called police reported that the victim’s head appeared nearly decapitated.

“This was an extremely brutal crime,” Greer told District Judge Valerie Robison.

Nelson was unarmed during a confrontation with Warner late May 26 or early May 27, 2011, which authorities said was fueled by alcohol. Nelson’s blood-alcohol level was .309 percent, nearly four times Colorado’s legal limit for driving.

Warner told Grand Junction police detectives he was protecting a woman nicknamed “Lambchop” during the dispute with Nelson, according to an arrest affidavit. He told police he slept at the camp with his hatchet.

“Daniel said after they checked his pulse and he was not moving, they talked about what they were going to do for breakfast and planned out the rest of their day,” the affidavit said.


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