Danny Shaw said his boyhood friend Adam Wells was alive when he left him in the garage bound and gagged, but after he allegedly heard Tyler Cruz strike Wells three times with a bat, Wells was motionless.
"I heard Ty say, 'You just don't get it,' and I heard him (strike Adam) three more times. After that I went inside and (Adam) wasn't moving anymore," Shaw said in a videotaped confession to police that was played in court Thursday.
"All I know is, I did hit (Adam). I hit him a couple times. I beat the (expletive) out of him. But he was still moving. He was still talking to me."
Shaw, 21, Cruz, 25, and Juan Cervantes Jr., 20, are charged in the strangulation death of Wells, 20, whose body Shaw led investigators to a half hour after they contacted him on his birthday, Oct. 6. The murder is alleged to have taken place at Shaw's Stanford Drive rental home.
Investigators say Shaw was angry with Wells for stealing a safe and he wanted to teach his former best-friend a lesson. After gathering Cruz and Cervantes as backup, the 190-pound, 5-foot 7-inch Shaw allegedly invited the 250 pound, 6-foot 2-inch Wells over. Shaw told investigators he emerged from the bathroom and struck his one-time friend in the head with a metal bat, while Wells sat unsuspecting on the couch.
"I just snapped and I hit him. He got up and he rushed me and I hit him a couple more times," Shaw said. "I got my gun and I told him, 'If you (expletive) move, I'm gonna (expletive) kill you.' And he didn't move so I tied him up."
The coroner determined Wells died from strangulation with an 84-foot-long rope, coupled with a beating that possibly left him unconscious.
The viewing of the videotaped confession came after Sgt. Bob White described finding Wells' blanket-wrapped body hidden under a truck-bed cover about five miles down Brunswick Canyon Road from Deer Run Road.
White said that when he went to speak with Shaw about Wells' disappearance, officers could smell marijuana in the house and saw three joints on a table. Shaw was immediately placed into handcuffs and placed in the back of a patrol car.
White said he leaned in to tell Shaw he knew Wells was hurt and Shaw should decide what kind of person he was going to be.
White said he then left Shaw alone in the patrol car for 20 to 30 minutes. When an officer got into the vehicle, Shaw allegedly said, "I'll take you to Adam."
For the next several hours, Shaw led investigators to Wells' body and confessed his part in Wells' slaying - all without being read his Miranda warning, Shaw's attorney Scott Freeman pointed out.
"You had your Miranda rights (card) with you and you chose to not advise him of his rights?" Freeman asked.
"Yes," White said.
"And without Miranda he went and showed the whole scene," Freeman said.
"Yes, he did," White said.
Shaw subsequently gave three additional statements to police after being told of his right to remain silent.
Videotaped statements from Cruz, Cervantes and Fred Bechtold are expected to be shown during the hearing's continuation Dec. 9.
Judge Robey Willis agreed Bechtold could be released to house arrest. Bechtold, 21, is charged with destroying evidence for burying a bat and hammer allegedly used in the assault. He was released to house arrest on Oct. 18, but was re-arrested Nov. 4 after he allegedly admitted he smoked marijuana while out on bail.
Cruz, Shaw and Cervantes are currently being held without bail.
At the request of defense attorney Jason Woodbury, Willis said bail for Cervantes will be discussed following the conclusion of the hearing.
-- Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.