(Neb)-Guilty Verdict In "Body In A Barrel" Murder Case
BRIDGEPORT - It took a Morrill County District Court jury a little over 4 hours Friday to convict 26-year old Zachary Mueller of Bridgeport of 1st-degree murder in the 2015 "body in a barrel" death of 33-year old Pedro Domingues of Greeley, Colo. The jury went out at 3:30 and returned just before 8:00.
Mueller was also convicted of felony use of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon. Because prosecutor and Deputy Attorney General Doug Warner decided against seeking the death penalty, Mueller will be sentenced to a mandatory term of life in prison Feb 27th
Both the prosecution and defense made it clear in their closing arguments that the case centered on whether the jury believed Felicia Talley, Dominguez's girlfriend and the mother of Mueller's 6-year old daughter, who testified that Mueller shot Dominguez in the head as she drove the 2 men.
Among the final pieces of evidence Warner entered before his summation were audio and video from visits between Mueller, family and friends after he was in custody, including one in which he told his mother he was "screwed" if police took Talley into custody and forced her testify.
Talley was held for months as a material witness and was granted full immunity for her testimony against Mueller, but Warner emphasized in his summation that the immunity applies only to that testimony and doesn't prevent her from being charged for homicide in the future based on other evidence.
The final defense witness, Alexandria Montoya, was a cellmate of Talley and testified that Talley told her over putting her hand over Dominguez's nose and mouth to keep him from "struggling." She also testified that Talley got a teardrop tattoo at the edge of her eye while in jail, viewed as a sign of having killed someone.
Defense Attorney Sarah Newell used her closing arguments to again accuse Talley of being the killer, calling her the "culprit" and emphasizing social media messages she made after Dominguez was killed in which she "prayed for forgiveness" and said she "didn't want to be like her mother," who is serving life in prison for murder.
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