SONORA, Calif. – Eleven years after Ellie Nesler (search) pulled a gun from her purse in a courtroom and gunned down the man accused of molesting her boy, police are hunting for her son — now wanted for murder.
William Nesler (search), 23, severely beat neighbor David Davis, 45, early Sunday, less than an hour after being released from jail for having beaten Davis a month earlier in a fight over tools, Tuolumne County sheriff's deputies said.
Nesler remained at large Thursday morning, sheriff's Sgt. Roger Dittberner said.
Davis was found unconscious and bleeding from head wounds when officers arrived near dawn at a lot littered with trailers, trash and cars on blocks where the two men lived. A warrant for Nesler's arrest was issued Tuesday, the day after Davis died at a Modesto (search) hospital from massive head wounds, Dittberner said.
While Nesler was well known to police — he was booked on 18 separate cases over five years as an adult and has a juvenile record — he is better known because of his mother's vigilante act.
Ellie Nesler ignited a national debate when she walked into a courtroom on April 2, 1993, and shot twice-convicted child molester, Daniel Driver, 35, five times in the head as he faced seven molestation charges, including one related to her young son.
Nesler, both derided by some for taking the law into her own hands and praised by others for exacting her own justice, served only three years of a 10-year manslaughter sentence when a court overturned the conviction due to juror misconduct. She is now in a California prison on charges related to manufacturing methamphetamine.
Neighbors said her son continued to live on the family's property, which was crowded with more than a half dozen trailers and strewn with junk. William Nesler is described as 6-foot-2, weighing 225 pounds and covered in tattoos.
On June 24, police were called out to the one-acre lot surrounded by barbed wire after Davis complained that Nesler stole his tools. When officers arrived to sort out the dispute, Nesler allegedly charged at Davis and began kicking and beating him.
Officers noted in the arrest report that after being read his rights, Nesler said he didn't want to talk, he wanted to be booked and go to court so he could start doing his time. "He's lucky I didn't kill him," Nesler allegedly told them.
Sentenced to 60 days in jail for battery, he served only 32, getting an early release because of good behavior and other credits such as one to alleviate crowding, according to police records. The sentence also included a restraining order to stay 100 yards from Davis.
Nesler was released at 4 a.m. Sunday, records show, and the beating happened about an hour later.
Police on Wednesday were searching former Gold Rush towns in the Sierra Nevada foothills now better known as tourist stops on Highway 49. "He's out and about," Dittberner said. "He could be anywhere."
At Ellie Nesler's murder trial in 1993, her sister testified that the boy, who was 7 at the time of the alleged abuse in the late 1980s, changed from "a very beautiful little kid ... into a mean little brat."