Monday, 06 February 2023

DA: Deason will be brought back to Lake County

LAKE COUNTY – A man whose murder conviction was overturned earlier this month will be brought back to Lake County where officials must decide whether to retry him on the same or different charges.

 

David Garlow Deason, 68, won an appeal of his February 2006 first-degree murder conviction from the First Appellate District Court on Dec. 14, as Lake County News has reported.

 

The appellate court found that the trial court erred by not allowing evidence of Deason's 0.27 blood alcohol level into defense testimony or jury instructions.

 

The alcohol was an important factor in determining whether or not Deason had planned the murder, the appellate court found.

 

Deason was convicted of the shooting death of 48-year-old Marie Parlet at the home they shared in Clearlake on Dec. 6, 2004, according to court records.

 

The couple had a disagreement earlier in the day, and Deason reportedly left and went drinking before returning home and shooting Parlet once in the chest and once in the back with a .38 pistol from a distance of about 18 inches, court records reported.

 

District Attorney Jon Hopkins told Lake County News that Deason will be brought back to Lake County where he'll be kept in custody while Hopkins decides what action to take next.

 

Hopkins isn't sure when Deason will be brought back, but said it will be early next year, after the appellate court's decision becomes final.

 

In the meantime, Hopkins said he must discuss the case with the state Attorney General's Office to see if that office suggests further appellate action. The case could also be appealed to the state Supreme Court, he added.

 

In the original trial transcripts, Deason's defense attorney, J. David Markham, argued that the blood alcohol evidence was critical to understanding the case. He contended it was central to the issue of premediation, which is necessary to proving a first-degree murder charge.

 

That argument was one with which the state's appellate judges agreed.

 

Hopkins explained that Deputy District Attorney John Langan, who prosecuted Deason, argued that the defense didn't have an expert who would interpret the amount of alcohol and what it meant with respect to premeditation and deliberation.

 

Deason's high blood alcohol level was recorded an hour and a half after the murder. Langan argued that Deason was at home alone for an hour after the murder drinking, said Hopkins. The prosecution questioned whether it could be determined that Deason had incurred that alcohol level before the murder or after.

 

“There would be no way of actually telling how much alcohol was in his system at the time of the killing,” said Hopkins. “In the decision by the appellate court, there was no real discussion of that issue.”

 

Deason had prior alcohol-related arrests in the 1970s, including three DUIs, as well as a conviction for carrying a loaded firearm in a public place. However, Hopkins said the prosecution did not introduce those cases into evidence.

 

“It's a rare circumstance where we're permitted to introduce prior conduct to be considered in the guilt phase of the case,” he said.

 

What's next, said Hopkins, is assessing where the case is now. “We're ready to go back to trial again.”

 

Hopkins said there are several options for moving forward, including further appellate work by the Attorney General's Office, a retrial on the first-degree murder charges and reaching a negotiated disposition in which Deason pleads guilty to a lesser charge.

 

The District Attorney's Office also could just dump the case, but Hopkins added, “That's not gonna happen.”

 

The last time a local murder conviction was set aside was in the 1990s, before Hopkins arrived in Lake County. That case involved defendant Charles Statler, Hopkins said, who was tried by Gary Luck during his tenure as district attorney.

 

Statler, according to Hopkins, killed another man with a cast iron skillet, which a federal appeals court ruled wasn't necessarily a deadly weapon.

 

“Our heads are still spinning over that legal analysis,” said Hopkins.

 

The Statler case, he added, ultimately was resolved with a plea bargain.

 

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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