By Jeff Lehr
MIAMI, Okla. —
Arturo Council described in court Thursday how Dustin Boggs abruptly attacked and killed Danyel Borden for no reason Council could discern June 14 of last year on a county road outside Miami.
Boggs had asked Council to give him and his girlfriend, Borden, a ride somewhere and was directing Council, who was driving, which roads to take from the back seat of the car. Borden was sitting in the front passenger seat, text-messaging someone, Council told the court.
They were listening to music and talking. There had been no argument, no angry words, Council said.
“All of a sudden I hear Danyel say, ‘Help me!’ and I looked over and he had a cord around her face,” Council testified.
He said the cord was across her mouth, and the sight was so surprising that he slammed on the brakes.
Council’s testimony, concerning what happened next and in the aftermath of the killing of Borden, 21, was instrumental in Boggs, 25, being ordered bound over for trial on a charge of first-degree murder after a preliminary hearing in Ottawa County District Court.
Special Judge Bill Culver ruled that there was probable cause for the charge despite defense attorney James Bowen’s argument that Council’s initial failure to report the woman’s slaying, subsequent lies he told investigators and his criminal record provided substantial reasons to doubt his account as the state’s key witness.
“Essentially, it’s a tossup as to who did what,” Bowen argued, even though Council has not been charged with any offense related to Borden’s death.
A state medical examiner’s report introduced into evidence by Assistant District Attorney Becky Baird lists the cause of death as both a gunshot wound and sharp force injuries to the woman’s head and neck. She was found lying on County Road 610 with a bullet wound to the face and a large cut across her neck.
Council, who told the court that he hails from Florida and goes by the nickname “Preacher Man,” was staying with Donna Shirley in Miami at the time of the murder. He met her online and had been coming to Oklahoma and staying with her “off and on” for six months. Borden was a friend of Shirley’s, so he knew her and her fiance, Boggs, as well, Council told the court. They referred to Boggs as “Manson,” a joke nickname because he kind of looked like Charles Manson, he said.
On June 14, Shirley woke him late in the morning and wanted him to go with her and her daughter. Boggs was waiting outside their home. They were going to give Boggs a ride somewhere. Council, who professed that he does not know the roads in the area well, said Boggs directed them out of town past a school with a statue of a gorilla to a place where there was a huge pile of gravel, he said.
Boggs walked behind the pile and was gone about 10 minutes. When he returned, he wanted to go to the Dollar Tree store. Shirley needed to go to Wal-Mart, and she asked Council to take her and her daughter there first, and then take Boggs to the other store. But, once they had dropped off Shirley and her daughter, Boggs asked him to pick up Borden at a park instead, Council testified.
After they picked her up, Boggs directed him back out of town, in much the same direction they went the previous time, until they came to the place where Boggs attacked Borden, Council said. Council testified that when he slammed on the brakes, Borden was able to break free of the cord, and she jumped out of the car in an effort to get away. But Boggs jumped out too and tackled her in the roadway along the passenger side of the vehicle, “and it looked like he was punching her in the chest,” Council said.
Council said he got out to try to intervene, but Boggs waved something at him and warned him to stay back or he would kill him. He said he couldn’t see what the defendant had in his hand, but he could see that Borden was covered in blood from her neck to her chest.
Boggs then stood up and went to the front passenger seat of the car. Council said he was returning to the driver’s seat when he saw that Boggs had a gun in his hand.
“I didn’t see him grab the gun, but the glove compartment was open,” Council testified.
He said Boggs pointed the weapon at him and told him to drive. Then, as Council started to put the vehicle in gear, Boggs exclaimed, “The b---- is up!” — meaning that Borden had gotten to her feet in the roadway at the back of the car and was starting to stumble away, he said.
Council said Boggs ordered him to back up, which he did, and Borden stumbled into the rear fender of the car. The impact broke the back window of the vehicle, he said. Then Boggs got out and began shooting at her, he said. Baird asked him how many times, and Council said: “Three. Maybe four. But I’m pretty sure. I’m sure I heard three.”
SLOW TO TELL
Council testified that he did not at first tell anyone, including Shirley, what had happened when they returned to town. Boggs had kept the gun on him until they got to Wal-Mart, he told the court. When he saw Shirley and her daughter walking toward the car, he got out and met her a short distance from the vehicle and warned her not to make a big deal about the broken window, he said.
When they got back to Shirley’s house, he helped her carry the groceries in, and while they were inside, Boggs drove off with the car, Council said. Shirley was mad and called police to report the theft while he took a shower and changed clothes, he said. He acknowledged that when law enforcement officers first came to the house, he never mentioned anything about what happened to Borden. He said he was afraid of what Boggs might do and what might happen to him.
Council said that toward nightfall, Boggs returned to the house and knocked on the doors. Shirley had left with a friend. He was there alone at that point, and he did not answer out of fear of what Boggs might do since he had witnessed the killing, he said. He said that when no one answered the door, he watched Boggs enter the garage and go back out moments later and leave.
Council told the court that later that night, he spotted two men in the yard, and one appeared to be hiding behind a tree. He did not know who they were and called 911. They turned out to be police, and a short time later he was questioned for a second time by an agent with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. He told her the truth about what had happened, he said.
Council testified that a few days later as he was packing clothes to return to Florida, he found a gun wrapped in a sweatshirt in the garage and turned it over to investigators.
No testimony concerning the ownership of the gun was presented at the hearing, although defense attorneys’ questioning of Council implied that the gun belonged to Shirley. Bowen asked Council if he ever heard Shirley tell Boggs there was a gun in her glove compartment, and he said he had not.
Emily Snyder, a former girlfriend of the defendant’s, testified that Boggs had been to see her in the early morning hours of the day before the killing. She said he told her that he and his friends, and he specifically mentioned “Preacher Man,” had been out looking for Borden.
“I asked him why, and he said because he wanted to slit her throat and throw her in a mine shaft,” Snyder said.
The prosecution also called Angela Clinton, a friend of Borden’s, to testify that she had been text-messaging her the day of her death. The last message she received from Borden was at 1:22 p.m. on June 14. A probable-cause affidavit states that the message was that she was in a vehicle leaving Miami with Boggs and Council.
An OSBI agent testified that the slaying is believed to have taken place minutes later, since the first statement from one of the people who discovered the body in the roadway was obtained at 1:55 p.m.
ARTURO COUNCIL, the state’s key witness in the slaying of Danyel Borden, admitted in court on Thursday to previous felony convictions for grand theft auto and battery, and arrests on various other charges.