Manslaughter plea given in escort’s killing
A Fruita resident and twice deployed U.S. Army combat veteran is to serve no more than 12 years in prison for killing a male escort in 2011.
Billy Joe Delacey, 35, pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter in the slaying of 26-year-old Luis Alberto Vasquez Oliva, or “Beto,” an undocumented Mexican national who was beaten to death inside his apartment at 540 29 Road, unit 6, in Fruitvale.
Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger moved to dismiss counts in an indictment handed down by a Mesa County grand jury, including first- and second-degree murder, possession of sexually exploitative material and misdemeanor theft.
Delacey could be sentenced to a maximum 12 years in prison, should the judge conclude there were aggravating factors in Oliva’s killing. He’s scheduled to be sentenced in February.
Delacey, outfitted Monday in a red jail jumpsuit in an indication he’s being held in a maximum security wing of the Mesa County Jail, said little during Monday’s brief hearing and kept his head bowed when not speaking with the judge.
The grand jury indictment alleged Delacey met Oliva via Craiglist, where Oliva had advertised male-on-male massages.
Oliva’s body was found inside his apartment the morning of Aug. 1, 2011, on a deflated air mattress with a large amount of blood pooled around his head. He suffered blunt-force trauma, with a single blow to the back of the head and 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 “Billy” had plans to meet Oliva around 10 a.m. on July 31. Delacey sent photos of himself to Oliva, which were seized as evidence.
Delacey denied involvement, while his defense was prepared to argue computer and phone records presented big problems for the prosecution’s case. The defense argued Oliva was using his cellphone near his apartment as late as 12:09 p.m. on July 31 — after which prosecutors theorized Oliva had already been murdered — at the same time records showed Delacey was at home in Fruita on his computer from 12:09 p.m. to 1:46 p.m.
Prosecutors, however, noted in the indictment an examination of 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 in the case.
Delacey allegedly refused to take a polygraph examination offered by deputies.
Deputies later learned Delacey was loading items into a storage unit and telling others he was being deployed soon, although U.S. Army representatives said he was not on active duty or the reserves, and hadn’t held such status since 2008. Delacey told investigators he was an intelligence officer.
Delacey moved to Pennsylvania in December 2011, where he was arrested in September 2012 on a Mesa County warrant.