FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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.

Crime-courts

Prosecution rests in cold-case murder trial

By From page A3 | December 04, 2012

FAIRFIELD — Prosecutors rested their case Monday against a Fairfield man facing a murder charge for the 1996 death of his girlfriend.

Lonnie J. Kerley, 52, was arrested at his Arlington Circle home by cold-case investigators in 2010 after they reopened their investigation into the death of Danna Dever for a second time.

The jury trial, which started in September, is expected to continue at least through next week. A juror who was hospitalized over the weekend was replaced with an alternate juror before prosecutors concluded their case.

Jurors have sat through more than a month of prosecution witness testimony. While they have heard several witnesses describe Kerley’s and Dever’s volatile relationship before her death, they will not hear some of the most gruesome aspects of the case that surfaced while jurors were outside the courtroom.

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

Prosecutors believe Kerley may have crushed Dever in a tanning bed at their home and then cooked her body before dumping it.

Three weeks ago, Judge Allan P. Carter ruled that jurors would not learn about the prosecution theory that the tanning bed was the murder weapon. Last week, prosecutors revealed a former jail inmate who knew Kerley months ago recently told an investigator that Kerley had described how he killed Dever in the tanning bed. Carter also ruled that jurors would not hear the testimony of the jailhouse informant.

The trial is set to resume 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.
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