Stepfather accused of Visalia teen's death pleads not guilty

Prosecutors filed charges Monday against a Visalia man accused of murdering his teenage stepson.
December 2, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Monday prosecutors filed charges against a Visalia man accused of murdering his teenage stepson. The body of the 14-year-old Dameian "Luke" Gulley was found last Thursday near the Sequoia National Park.

Gulley's stepfather, Miguel Villegas, first court appearance was short and his wife was not there. It is unclear if she is supporting him. Monday Villegas pleaded not guilty. Villegas told the judge he could not afford an attorney before a public defender entered a not guilty plea to charges of premeditated first-degree murder, for the death of his teenage stepson, Dameian Gulley.

Tulare County DA, Tim Ward, did not reveal details about how the murder was planned out, but no special circumstances were included in the charges filed.

"We are absolutely still gathering more reports. That will be an ongoing process. It's not uncommon especially in a case of this magnitude," Ward said.

A family friend who said she was representing Dameian's mother did not comment after the arraignment. The district attorney said it does not appear Andrea Villegas was involved in any way in her son's death.

As Dameian's classmates returned to school from winter break Monday, counselors were in the library for students who wanted to talk.

The Valley Oak principal says many of Dameian's teachers attended his funeral over the weekend. They too, are trying to understand what happened and why his life was tragically taken.

"They are grieving just as everyone is, wondering and asking questions. And again they are questions a lot of us have answers to," Principal Michael Hernandez said.

Hernandez also personally visited each class Dameian was in, to make sure students were coping ok. He too, said he will miss the 8th graders optimistic attitude and watching him shoot hoops at lunch.

"He played basketball every day. I knew exactly where he would be. He rode his bike to school, opened the bike rack for him several times when it was locked, pleasant young man, pleasant young man," Hernandez said.


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