Murder victim had meth in his system

May 9, 2014
John Steven Danner

John Steven Danner

A man murdered by his girlfriend’s son in rural Paso Robles had methamphetamine in his system, a forensic pathologist testified on Thursday.

On Feb. 7, John Steven Danner, 23, heard Billy Don Law, 47, arguing with his mother Christine Ruda. Law was agitated after he mistakenly surmised Danner was burning candles in his room. The house lacks electricity.

Three or four weeks earlier, Law had knocked out one of Danner’s teeth when he sucker-punched him while Danner sat on a couch. According to investigators, Law was angry over a parking issue.

After hearing his mother screaming, Danner retrieved two handguns from his room and warned Danner that he needed to leave his mother alone or he would shoot him, according to court testimony.

Law then approached Danner, who shot him ten times. Law bled to death.

Danner has plead not guilty in February. He is scheduled for an arraignment hearing on May 27.


Mom might have picked a boyfriend with similar interests? It’s a possibility and could explain the lack of power, i.e. candles, in the house. I don’t know but…


Billy was the caretaker of a very large ranch that has an old abandoned mine on it. One area of the ranch has old mercury pools on it and it is considered toxic. The ranch is well over 100 acres. The old ranch house was original and it never had electricity. Billy didn’t want candles burned in the house outside of his supervision because he was afraid of John starting a fire. Billy was known as a gentle man and he was simply enjoying the solitude with Christine out there while acting as a “legal” caretaker for the gov as the government had declared the ranch a super clean up area.

Billy was there for years and then John showed up and became nothing but trouble right from the start. He didn’t work, he was rude, he had received a large inheritance from his dad but had blown through it and was living off Billy. The car incident wasn’t about parking, it was about John driving too fast, kicking up dirty and antagonizing the neighbors. Billy did lose his temper after months of crap from John (Billy was only putting up with John for Chrisitne’s sake) and he hit him that one time. What happened to Billy was a cold blooded murder. Christine wasn’t ever in danger, she and Billy were arguing about John but Billy had never ever been violent towards Christine. John walked up to Billy with the gun and when Billy refused to back down and run from John, he unloaded his first round right in Billy’s face and then pulled off 9 more shots after Billy was on the floor. It was a cold blooded MURDER.

How do I know this? Because my handy man knows these people and my handy mans son was there when it all happened. As for the meth, that is a surprise. There was never any indication that Billy used meth. Like I said, he was known as a peaceful man until John showed up, moved himself in,started living off Billy and resenting any rules that Billy tried to enforce. I have this information from a first hand witness.


I am sure that you believe this story to be true but if Billy had meth in his system, I am going to withhold judgment because I have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with a relapsing meth addict.

The stuff does awful things to people — not just to their physical appearance but to their psychological makeup. They may have been sweet and wonderful people before and even maintain that personality at times but when they get desperate or someone crosses them, they can become a modern day “Mr. Hyde.”

I might be more inclined to accept your judgment if YOU had been living there with them but that is the only way I think that you could know for sure if the version of events told to you is accurate.


Will you please just stop this nonsense about the drug having any responsibility for this issue?! I am not doubting you personal experience with a relapsing meth addict but I have known plenty of addicts in my day and although there are consistencies with behavior among SEVERE addicts who also generally have pre-existing mental conditions, this is simply not true about all people that use meth. I can say that same statement over and replace the word “meth” with “alcohol” and it is equally true, but you would not be saying this if they had found alcohol in Billy’s system, especially just a small amount.

The idea that meth has this effect on people is a MYTH. There are plenty of people you see on a daily basis that are routine users of amphetamines in various forms including adderall, ritalin, and yes, meth, and you never even realize it. Just like there are people you see on a daily basis that use alcohol, but it doesn’t stand out to you. If alcohol was not used by most of the population, it would be very easy to create a myth about alcohol being responsible even when it was found in a small amount.

I’m not trying to defend meth addicts or argue that it is not a dangerous and often destructive drug, but this narrative that has been created in people’s minds is utter nonsense.


In addition to the experience I had above, I have had other more limited experiences with meth users and know several other people who have also had them. With one exception, they were all essentially the same. I will agree that not all meth users are severely affected by it but I would bet that those who are outnumber the “casual” users by a substantial amount.

Granted it is only my personal experience and those of people I know — but I know of no verifiable proof that your point of view is accurate. If you can provide such evidence, I will reconsider.

I also specified methamphetimine because I think it is the worst and most addictive of the stimulants. There are indeed problems of abuse with all drugs from heroin to alcohol to nicotine. But the severity and nature of their effects on people varies over a continuum — they are not all the same even when they are very similar in the effects of the “high” they give.


I appreciate the way that you responded, and I will see about finding some evidence which will convince. I definitely contend that the casual users of meth outnumber the severely affected and that they are just not as apparent, but given that such users are likely not statistics I may have a hard time, but I too am just speaking from my own experience with users. I have always been a very open and tolerant person so I have found that people are willing to be honest with me about some of the things they do that I would never otherwise know about.


I know my handymans son, he is a quiet, clear minded person and he doesn’t use meth but say’s he does smoke marijuana on occasion. He say’s there was no indication that Billy used drugs and if he did, it must have been very minimal and probably only to do heavy work on the ranch. . He was living out there for 2 weeks prior to the incident and was there in the house the night that John murdered Billy Law. He heard everything and saw the last 4 rounds being fired.

John was angry because of the incident 2 weeks earlier when Billy ended up hitting him and because Billy had rules. John was 23 years old, why the hell didn’t he just move out and leave his mother and her boyfriend alone?

Downtown Bob

Cindy, great story, there are pretty much zero casual users of meth. Meth can and normally does turn great folks into violent monsters many times even harming themselves. With meth in the victims system, fair or not, it make the shooters story much more likely than the step son just shooting a guy out of the blue.


Good job picking a boyfriend, mom.