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Nesler Gives Himself Up in Fatal Beating

The son of Ellie Nesler eluded police for a week. He had an earlier fight with the victim.

August 05, 2004|From Associated Press

SONORA, Calif. — William Nesler surrendered to authorities Wednesday after a week on the run for allegedly killing his neighbor.

Nesler is best known because of his mother, who in a courtroom 11 years ago gunned down the man accused of molesting him.

Nesler, 23, severely beat David Davis, 45, on July 25, less than an hour after being released from jail for beating Davis a month earlier in a fight over tools, Tuolumne County sheriff's deputies said.

Davis was found unconscious and bleeding from head wounds last week when officers arrived near dawn at a lot littered with trailers, trash and cars on blocks where the two men lived. An anonymous caller reported at 5:08 a.m. that "Willie Nesler just assaulted a man who is lying on the ground," according to police reports.

A warrant for Nesler's arrest on suspicion of murder was issued July 27, the day after Davis died at a Modesto hospital from massive head wounds. Authorities had been combing Tuolumne and Calaveras counties for Nesler.

Vicki Tavares, a dispatcher at the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department in Sonora, confirmed that Nesler was in custody but said she had no further details.

Nesler has a lengthy criminal record. He had been booked on 18 separate cases over five years as an adult and has a juvenile record.

Ellie Nesler ignited a national debate when she walked into a courtroom on April 2, 1993, and shot twice-convicted child molester Daniel Driver, 35, five times in the head as he faced seven molestation charges, including one related to her young son.

Nesler, who was derided for taking the law into her own hands and praised for exacting her own justice, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

A TV movie was made about the case, for which her family received more than $250,000.

After three years behind bars, Nesler won an appeal based on juror misconduct and was released.

For the last two years, she has been serving a six-year sentence for charges related to manufacturing methamphetamine.

Neighbors said her son continued to live on the family's property, a 1-acre lot strewn with junk and more than half a dozen trailers and surrounded by barbed wire.

On June 24, police were called to the property after Davis complained that Nesler had stolen his tools.

When officers arrived, Nesler charged at Davis and began kicking and beating him.

"He's lucky I didn't kill him," Nesler said, according to the police report. "I should have just blown [him] away."

Sentenced to 60 days in jail for battery, he served 32.

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