(Neb)-Life Without Parole For "Body In A Barrel" Killer
BRIDGEPORT - The Bridgeport man convicted in Morrill County's "body in a barrel" murder has been officially given the mandatory sentence for 1st-degree murder - life in prison with no possibility of parole.
25-year-old Zachary Mueller of Bridgeport was also sentenced to a pair of 20-to-40 year terms for possession of a firearm by a felon and using a firearm to commit a felony. All 3 sentences are to be served consecutively without parole.
Mueller was convicted in a week-long trial in January for the drug-related death of Pedro Dominguez of Greeley, Colorado, whose body was found December 4th, 2015 stuffed in a barrel floating in a creek east of Bayard.
Testimony at trial showed the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the back of the head and put the murder 11 days before the body was discovered.
Defense attorney Sarah Newell asked District Judge Leo Dobrovolny at sentencing for leniency on the two weapons charges, noting that Mueller has struggled with substance abuse since he was 9 and began using meth when he was 11.
Newell said Mueller was aware of his drug problem, which she said would keep him from seeing his daughter in the future.
Some of Mueller's family and friends sobbed prior to the sentencing, but all of them and all of the relatives of Dominguez present for the sentencing declined to speak to reporters.
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