Courier staff writer
DEL NORTE — The man accused of murdering a Monte Vista couple almost one year ago appeared yesterday for the first time in Rio Grande County Court, but not for long.
Rio Grande County Judge Patrick Hayes, Jr., continued the initial date to schedule a preliminary hearing for Daniel M. Bessey until March 7 at 1:30 p.m.
The brief proceedings drew numerous friends and family members of victims John Salazar and Sarah Beasley to the Rio Grande County Courthouse.
Authorities arrested Bessey last month in Beckham County, Okla., on numerous charges connected to the Feb. 13, 2012 shooting deaths of Salazar and Beasley, including first-degree murder.
According to court records, Bessey had an on-again, off-again relationship with the 29-year-old Beasley, and is the biological father of the youngest boy who lived with Salazar at the time of the shootings.
Police later spoke with one person who claimed Bessey was upset that Salazar cut his biological son’s hair, and that the other two children referred to Salazar as “Dad.”
Bessey, who lived in Saguache at the time of the murders, was first interviewed the day after Monte Vista Police officers responded to a report of the double homicide at 530 Lyell St.
During their exhaustive investigation into the murders, authorities seized cell phone records that they used to trace Bessey’s alleged movements in the hours immediately before and after the incident.
In addition, they pieced together records of Beasley’s cell phone activity; an affidavit and application for an arrest warrant says that information contradicts Bessey’s account of how his flashlight wound up at the couple’s home.
The flashlight, which was found about six feet from the 54-year-old Salazar’s body, turned out to be a key piece of evidence that led to Bessey’s arrest.
During his initial interview with police, Bessey allegedly said he dropped the flashlight at the residence on Feb. 10, when he said he repaired a leaky drain valve on Beasley’s vehicle.
According to the affidavit, Bessey claimed that Beasley called or texted him to let him know that he left his flashlight behind.
But police reported they found no record of any related communication between the two. Nor was there any indication that someone had phoned him from another number, according to the affidavit.
One of Beasley’s children said he and his brothers were playing in the yard the day after Bessey claimed he worked on the car and did not notice the flashlight.
Moreover, statements from Beasley’s family members about her activities on that day contradicted Bessey’s claims. According to their statements, Beasley drove her vehicle to her mother’s home that day.
She never left that house until they drove to the Walmart in Alamosa, where they remained for over an hour, according to video surveillance from the store.
It was right around that time that Bessey claimed he was repairing Beasley’s car in Monte Vista, the affidavit says.
Under the law, Bessey is presumed to be innocent unless or until prosecutors can prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.