- The Washington Times - Monday, August 2, 2004

SONORA, Calif. (AP) — William Nesler was once known as a young rape victim whose vigilante mother walked into a courtroom and shot his accused molester five times in the head 11 years ago.

Since the acts that led to that day, Nesler’s life has never been the same.

He has been in jail nearly 20 times in the past five years, in cases ranging from complaints about his Rottweiler to robbery and drug charges. And now he is wanted for murder, charged with beating a disabled neighbor to death, just an hour after completing a jail sentence for attacking the same man in a dispute over tools. Authorities do not know where he is hiding, but they consider him armed and dangerous.

Recently, Nesler had helped clean up his family’s property in this mountainous area of California. David Davis, 45, disabled from a neck injury while working in oil fields in Wyoming, was hired to help clear the property, which had turned into a squatter’s camp, according to Mr. Davis’ mother, Rita Brown.

Trouble came in late June when Mr. Davis accused Nesler of stealing his tools. Nesler attacked Mr. Davis and started beating him, police said.

“He’s lucky I didn’t kill him,” Nesler reportedly told police.

Nesler pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to two months in jail. He was released at 4 a.m. on July 25. Mr. Davis was killed about an hour later.

Although they recognize that his upbringing has played a role in his troubles, friends and family members said they were still surprised by the murder charge.

“He was a great kid,” said Sacramento bounty hunter Leonard Padilla, a family friend. “I would never have believed it would come to something like this, though a lot of times there’s a progression of activity.”

When Nesler was 6 or 7 years old, he reportedly was molested by Daniel Driver at a Christian camp. He didn’t tell anyone for nearly a year because, he said, Driver had threatened to kill his family.

After two years on the lam, Driver was arrested and brought to court on April 2, 1993, for a hearing on whether he would face trial on charges of molesting Nesler and three other boys.

Ellie Nesler said her son couldn’t testify. He was vomiting. She feared the twice-convicted molester would walk free.

During a recess, she pulled a Raven .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol from the purse of her other sister, Jan Martinez, and shot Driver in the head.

“He deserved to die,” she told police. “Maybe I’m not God, but I’ll tell you what — I’m the closest … thing to it for all the other little boys.”

She later said, “My little boy can hold his head up now. He doesn’t have to be afraid of Danny.”

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