Suspect in fatal shooting claims he was defending his mother

jlavelle@thetribunenews.comFebruary 8, 2014 

John Steven Danner, 23, of Paso Robles was arrested Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, on suspicion of murder. Original story »

Authorities are investigating whether the shooting death of a Paso Robles man early Friday may have been a case of a son protecting his mother from her boyfriend.

John Steven Danner, 23, was arrested on suspicion of murder Friday in the shooting death of 47-year-old Billy Don Law at a house in the 700 block of Klau Mine Road in rural west Paso Robles.

Law lived at the home with his girlfriend, Christine Ruda, and her adult son, Danner, said Sgt. David Nottenkamper of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.

Nottenkamper said police are investigating Danner’s claim that he was protecting his mother when he shot Law. During the altercation, Ruda, 51, also was wounded in the arm, Nottenkamper said.

Law took his mother to the hospital to be treated for the wound and the hospital notified police at about 3 a.m. Friday that they were treating a gunshot victim. Danner remained at the hospital while authorities went to the house on Klau Mine Road, where they found Law’s body in the doorway.

"The son was taken into custody at the hospital,” Nottenkamper said. Danner is being held without bail in County Jail. His mother was treated and released from the hospital at about noon Friday.

Nottenkamper declined to say whether Ruda corroborated her son’s claim that he was protecting her from Law.

Authorities also confiscated four rattlesnakes from the home, Nottenkamper said. Law apparently kept the snakes to sell their venom for the manufacture of antivenom, which is used to treat rattlesnake bites, he said.

Sheriff’s Office forensic investigators returned to the home Saturday, Nottenkamper said. A forensic team from the Department of Justice’s Goleta office was expected to assist in the investigation.

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