The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

June 18, 2013

State’s key witness testifies in murder trial

MIAMI, Okla. — The fate of Dustin Boggs may ultimately depend on the credibility of Arturo Council.

If jurors believe Council, then Boggs, 25, could be convicted of first-degree murder in the 2012 stabbing and shooting death of his ex-girlfriend, Danyel Borden, 21, at his trial this week in Ottawa County District Court.

Council claims that he watched Boggs kill Borden, unable to come to her defense, held at bay by the knife- and gun-wielding defendant.

But should jurors find the account of the state’s key witness too convenient or self-serving to believe, then they may decide to acquit Boggs.

The trial opened Monday with District Attorney Eddie Wyant telling jurors that they were going to hear a story about the rage of the defendant against a woman he had been engaged to marry. Defense attorney James Bowen countered with the suggestion that Council may have committed the murder just as easily as Boggs, and that the only reason his client was on trial was that Council managed to beat Boggs to the police with his account of what happened.

Borden’s body was found lying on County Road 610 outside Miami the afternoon of June 14, 2012, with a bullet wound to her face and a large cut across her neck.

Council, who hails from Florida and goes by the nickname “Preacher Man,” spent about three hours on the witness stand Tuesday and provided essentially the same account he had given at a preliminary hearing Jan. 24.

He was staying with Donna Shirley, a friend of Borden’s, in Miami at the time. He had met her online several months earlier and had been coming to see her off and on since the start of 2012. Boggs had been introduced to him as Borden’s fiance a couple months before the murder.

Council told the court that the day in question, he and Shirley gave Boggs a ride in Shirley’s car out to a chat pile for reasons that were never made clear to him. Afterward, they went to Wal-Mart and dropped Shirley and her daughter off to shop. Council then drove Boggs to Rotary Park, where they picked up Borden. He said Boggs had wanted him to take him to Dollar Tree, but changed his mind and asked him to take him and Borden to a house outside of town instead.

Borden was sitting in the front passenger seat, with Boggs sitting behind her. Council said Borden was talking and text-messaging a friend when all of a sudden he heard her say, “Help me!” He said he looked over and saw that Boggs had a cord around her head and across her mouth. He slammed on the brakes, he said, and she jumped from the car, with Boggs jumping out after her. Council said he put the car in park, got out and went around the back, and saw Boggs on top of Borden in the road.

“It looked like he was punching her in the chest, but she was all cut up,” Council said.

He said he started toward her and Boggs, and Boggs stood up, waved something at him that he had in his hand and threatened to kill him if he didn’t stay back. He said he never saw a knife but later figured out that’s what it must have been. He said Boggs ordered him back in the car and climbed into the front passenger seat before he managed to get back in the driver’s seat.

Council said that as he was getting back in the car, he noticed that the glove compartment was open and that Boggs had a gun in his hand. He said Boggs pointed the weapon at him and told him to drive. But before he could get started, he heard Boggs say, “The b---- is up,” and ordered him to back up. Council told the court that he put the car in reverse, and as he was backing up, Borden staggered into the right rear fender, hitting the car hard and shattering its rear windshield as the vehicle came to a stop.

The witness said the defendant then stepped out and fired three or four shots at Borden as she staggered away. He said he never saw if she was shot or where any of the shots may have struck her because his view of her was obstructed by the shattered glass of the rear windshield. He said Boggs then made him drive back to the Wal-Mart store in Miami at gunpoint, and later stole the car after dropping Council, Shirley and her daughter off at Shirley’s house.

On direct examination by Wyant, Council testified that he initially lied to police and said he did not know anything about Borden’s murder when they came to Shirley’s house that night. He said he lied because he was afraid of Boggs.

“I did not know where Dustin was, if he was around watching me or what,” he said.

He said he later told the truth to an agent with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation once he learned that Boggs had been arrested. But Bowen questioned him on cross-examination about having told the agent that he lied because he feared being arrested himself. Council said he did not recall telling the agent that.

Council also acknowledged on cross-examination that Borden owed him $100 at the time for a phone that he had given her. But when Bowen asked him if he had ever gone to her house and stood over her while she was sleeping — an allegation the attorney suggested Borden had disclosed to a friend — Council said he had knocked on her door while she was asleep but denied having stepped inside and stood over her.

The defense attorney further questioned him about police having found Borden’s blood on his clothes.

“Do you remember them asking how Danyel’s blood could have gotten on you?” Bowen asked.

“Yes.”

“And you didn’t know, did you?”

“No.”

“You still don’t.”

“No.”

Former girlfriend

A FORMER GIRLFRIEND of Dustin Boggs has testified at his trial in Miami that he visited her the day before Danyel Borden was killed, and told her that he wanted to slit Borden’s throat and throw her down a mine shaft.

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