Lonnie J. Kerley, left, was was indicted Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, by a Solano County grand jury on a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the 1996 death of Danna L. Dever, right, of Cordelia.

Lonnie J. Kerley, left, was was indicted Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, by a Solano County grand jury on a charge of second-degree murder in connection with the 1996 death of Danna L. Dever, right, of Cordelia.


Doctor testifies to suspected cause of Cordelia woman’s death

By From page A4 | November 08, 2012

VALLEJO — A forensic anthropologist wrapped up his second day on the witness stand Wednesday in the jury trial for a Fairfield man who faces a second-degree murder charge for the 1996 death of his girlfriend.

Lonnie J. Kerley is accused of killing Danna Dever, who lived with Kerley and their 9-year-old daughter at their home in Cordelia. He reported Dever missing to Fairfield police in August 1996, saying she had walked out the door six weeks earlier and had not returned.

Dever’s badly decomposed, naked body was discovered in the summer of 1996 by farm workers in a ditch south of Dixon, but was not identified by authorities until 2007.

Earlier this year, Dr. Turhon Murad told investigators that further examination of Dever’s body might help determine a cause of death. A court order to exhume Dever’s body was obtained and her body was taken to a laboratory at California State University, Chico.

Murad testified that Dever’s remains were “essentially mummified” and weighed only about 25 to 30 pounds.

As Murad testified, jurors could scrutinize several of the bones from Dever’s remains that prosecutors had put on display in the middle of the courtroom. At the end of the day, Judge Allan P. Carter gave jurors a few moments to step out of the jury box and take a close look at the remains.

Murad testified that Dever’s hyoid bone in her throat had been broken, suggesting she had been strangled. He also said he had discovered broken ribs, leading him to conclude that Dever had suffered from a severe and perhaps fatal beating.

“I think she was stomped,” Murad told jurors of the injuries he believed occurred at the time of Dever’s death.

Jurors have already heard extensive testimony from neighbors, Dever’s friends and relatives, and police detailing the history of violence and domestic abuse Kerley inflicted on Dever.

Prosecutors Krishna Abrams and Julie Underwood are scheduled to continue presenting their case against Kerley when the trial resumes Tuesday.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.

Discussion | 6 comments

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  • GemmaNovember 08, 2012 - 7:28 am

    I knew the victim had a daughter, but I did NOT know the daughter was the suspects as well. Does anyone know what happened to the daughter when the victim went missing? If the victim had really "left" like the suspect said, she either would have taken her daughter or left her with the dad/suspect. If she took her, where did she end up, because we all know, the victim didn't really leave,like the suspect claims.

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  • FF64November 08, 2012 - 2:05 pm

    When investigators went to talk to the daughter a week after Mom went missing. Dad had an attorney for her. It was a really short interview. Several years later when she was in high school and we tried to interview her, the new wife intervened. He convinced the daughter that Mom was a druggie and didn't care about them. The tragedy in this case was the failure to identify the remains for eleven years. There were multiple opportunities and multiple failures.

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  • GemmaNovember 09, 2012 - 5:08 am

    @FF64-Thank you for that info. Reading that the daughter had an attorney AND the suspect had a NEW WIFE gave me chills.This is really sad for the daughter. She was a child. Even in high school-she was a child being raised by TWO evil people.Innocent people don't hire attorneys for children. That had to be beyond frustrating for LE to not be able to talk to the daughter,due to her having an attorney.I don't know if the new wife knew the truth, but she knew the daughter's mother was gone, and the father was being questioned. That would have been enough for me to not become involved with him. It did strike me as odd that her remains were found relatively quickly, but weren't identified for 11 long years.I feel really bad for the daughter.She believed her mother abandoned her, then years later her father is arrested for her mom's murder.I truly hope she has a better life as an adult than she had as a child and youth.

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  • misleadNovember 12, 2012 - 4:32 pm

    Maybe the new wife was trying to protect the child who was being questioned with no family being around and the child may have been scared to death. Maybe the wife did not know anything about the "death" of the the mother and was told other things until everything was all brought out by the police. There are many things that many of us don't know and are just learning about this evil man. I'm just saying.

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  • bradNovember 08, 2012 - 8:48 am

    after reading the reports from this case, its really sickening to hear of the events (by events, i mean brutal beatings) that were seen by these witnesses and never reported. how could you not report seeing something like that? i wonder if they realize they could have saved this woman's life. frankly, they deserve to do some time for allowing this animal to continue to torture her.

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  • dNovember 08, 2012 - 10:22 pm

    scary to think that he worked at the napa school district during all of this until he broke his neck in a motorcycle accident a year before he was arrested. He drove the garbage truck for the district at the time of the incident. Then moved to the plumbing shop where I worked with him. Very quiet guy who wore black boots,pants,jacket,and long black hair. Never told the truth about anything. Always in a joking way though, but weird none the less. I dont know what to think?

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