A 26-year-old Bridgeport man serving a life sentence for the 2015 murder of a Colorado man will hear his appeal by the Nebraska Supreme Court later this year.
Zachary Mueller was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Pedro Dominguez after a jury convicted him of shooting the man and stuffing his body in a barrel and disposing it in a creek near his home.
Court documents say that on November 22, Mueller, Dominguez and Felicia Talley (who shares a child with Mueller) left Mueller’s home in Morrill County in a blue Volkswagen.
Talley testified that during the drive, a gun shot rang out in the car and Dominguez had a bullet in his head. She then said Mueller pointed the gun at her and threatened to kill her too.
They ultimately drove to Cheyenne, where Talley and Mueller ultimately parted ways- with Talley reportedly leaving with the gun and meth that Dominguez had on him before being fatally shot.
In the following days, Mueller was seen driving the Volkswagen with one of the seats removed and asked a friend to help him seal a 40-gallon drum containing Dominguez’s body. The barrel was found in an irrigation creek not far from Mueller’s home.
On January 6th, 2017 Mueller was convicted by a jury on charges of 1st Degree Murder, Use of a Firearm to Commit a Felony, and Possession of a Firearm by a Felon.
Two months later Mueller was sentenced to life in prison for the murder, and 20 to 40 years on the remaining two charges, with credit for 371 days served in Morrill County Jail.
Mueller’s attorney, Sarah Newell with the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy, states there were multiple assignments of error in this case including:
- The Morrill County District Court erred when instructing the jury as to venue, premeditation, intoxication, and possession by a prohibited person- Newell argues that it’s not clear where exactly the shooting happened and where Dominguez actually died as they were travelling between two states
- The evidence adduced at trial was insufficient to sustain a conviction for First Degree Murder because a rational trier of fact could not have concluded that Muller killed Dominguez, nor that he did so purposely and with deliberate and premeditated malice
- The Morrill County District Court erred by imposing excessive sentences
- The Morrill County District Court erred by not crediting Mueller for the 91 days he spent in custody in Wyoming while being held on this offense
These assignments of errors are slated to be heard by the high court in early October.