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Two Paso Robles men found guilty of murder 

Two Paso Robles men are facing possible life sentences, after SLO County juries in two different cases convicted them both of murder charges.

The first, 52-year-old Thomas Yanaga, was found guilty on Sept. 25 of the murder of 32-year-old Marshall Savoy after a trial that lasted more than four weeks. Prosecutors argued that Yanaga shot Savoy in the driveway of his Paso Robles home after an argument in March. During the trial, Yanaga’s defense attorney argued that he shot Savoy in self-defense.

According to the SLO District Attorney’s office, Yanaga faces a mandatory minimum sentenced of 15 years to life in state prison for Savoy’s murder. The jury also found Yanaga guilty of an enhanced charge for using a gun to commit Savoy’s murder. The enhancement carries an additional 25 years to life in state prison. 

Yanaga was supposed to be sentenced in SLO County Superior Court Sept. 29, but the hearing was rescheduled for
Oct. 8.

Three days after Yanaga’s conviction, another jury found John Steven Danner, 23, guilty of shooting and killing 47-year-old Billy Don Law. During the 20-day trial, SLO County prosecutors argued that Danner shot Law, his mother’s boyfriend, multiple times at their Paso Robles residence in February. Similar to Yanaga’s case, Danner’s attorney argued that the shooting was self-defense.

Danner also faces a mandatory 15-years-to-life sentence, as well as the additional 25 years to life due to the enhanced firearms charge. Danner’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for
Oct. 27.

The two high-profile murder trials were likely the cause of a packed SLO courthouse in early September, when jury selection for the two cases began. On Sept. 1, the court reported that 271 SLO County residents showed up for jury duty. At least 179 of those made up the initial pool of potential jurors for Yanaga’s trial.

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