Police: Man admits role in homicide

Says he used both sides of hatchet to attack victim

Daniel Warner

The suspect in the slaying of a man Friday at a transient camp said he first wielded the blunt end of a hatchet during a fight, before he “turned the puppy around” and struck the man repeatedly, according to an arrest affidavit.

Daniel Scott Warner, 47, told officers that 46-year-old Richard Nelson didn’t move after collapsing to the ground at the camp, east of Pepsi Bottling Group, 140 Power Road, near the Colorado River. Officers found Nelson’s face bloodied, his nose nearly severed, along with other wounds to his arms and a knee.

Near the body, a bloody hatchet’s blade-end was stuck in the ground, the handle sticking up.

“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.

Warner’s arrest warrant was unsealed Thursday. He’s being held on $250,000 at the Mesa County Jail on suspicion of second-degree murder in Nelson’s death.

Approximately 5 feet from Nelson’s body, Warner and a woman, Lavon “Lambchop” Goulart, were asleep inside a tent when they were awakened by officers, the affidavit said. Warner made a series of spontaneous statements about a fight, Nelson and “protecting Goulart,” the affidavit said.

Warner told officers he, along with Goulart and Nelson, had been drinking at a campsite the night before, and he acknowledged threatening Nelson with a crowbar-type instrument and a hatchet. Warner said he had “scratched” Nelson with the hatchet, which Warner said he recently purchased.

“Daniel told us ... Rick calmed down and went to sleep in a tent,” the affidavit said.

The next morning, Warner claimed that Nelson jumped on the tent Warner and Goulart had been sleeping in, “punching all over the tent with his fists, striking him and his girlfriend multiple times in the face,” the affidavit said. Warner said he grabbed the hatchet, which he sleeps with, and started swinging at Nelson, the affidavit said.

Warner will be formally charged Tuesday.


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