Friday, 24 May 2024

Deason murder trial set to enter third week

LAKEPORT – A Lower Lake man's retrial for murder will enter its third week on Jan. 21, when testimony in the case resumes.


David Garlow Deason, 69, is accused of the December 2004 murder of his girlfriend, 48-year-old Marie Parlet.


His trial began before Superior Court Judge Arthur Mann in Department 3 on Jan. 6 following jury selection that began in mid-December, said Deputy District Attorney John Langan.


The prosecution alleges that Deason shot Parlet once in the chest and once in the chest from a distance of 18 inches while standing outside of their Lower Lake home. The two had reportedly argued earlier in the day, after which Deason left their residence and went drinking.


Deason was convicted of the murder in February 2006 and sentenced to 50 years to life in state prison, as Lake County News has reported.


But an appellate court threw out the conviction in December 2007, ruling that the court had erred in excluding evidence of Deason's alleged high level of intoxication – 0.27 blood alcohol content, more than three times the legal limit, according to court records.


On Wednesday, Langan called to the stand Burt Hirahara, a latent print supervisor with the California Department of Justice, who discussed examining the .38 pistol allegedly used in the murder.


Hirahara explained that “latent” prints are those which are left by a chance touch.


Langan handed him a white box containing the .38, which Hirahara confirmed was the handgun he had examined.


He said he had found no prints on the weapon. Langan asked if that could have been because the person using it was wearing gloves, wiped it down or had very dry hands, which are not conducive to leaving prints. Hirahara suggested any of those scenarios could be the case.


During cross examination, defense attorney Doug Rhoades asked Hirahara if he would expect to get a print off of a checked surface, such as that found on a handgun's handle. Not always, Hirahara replied.


What about the trigger? Rhoades asked. Hirahara said they could sometimes find partial prints in that location.


As to a conducive area for a print to be found, Rhoades asked Hirahara if the metal on the handgun frame would hold prints, and Hirahara said yes.


Rhoades argued that “everything is speculation” about why there is no print on the weapon – including the suggestions that it had been wiped down or that someone had used gloves.


He also asked if the gun was loaded or unloaded when Hirahara received it. Hirahara looked at his notes and indicated he had no information about ammunition.


Next on the stand was Terry Fickies, a retired senior criminologist with the California Department of Justice, who specialized in firearms and tool marks. He also did firearms examinations – commonly known as ballistics.


The .38 handgun in evidence was subjected to three test fires, he said, in order to look at the particular markings that the weapon left on the bullets it fired.


Fickies said in his examination of the test fires and the expended bullet casings from the crime scene, he was not able to find sufficient corresponding characteristics to make a conclusion about whether they came from the same weapon.


“Those bullets could have been fired from this weapon or any other weapon with similar class characteristics,” he said.


He added that the bullets in question were made of lead, and harder to match up when it comes to identifying markings.


Fickies added that certain types of weapons may not leave marks on bullets. “It's just the luck of the draw.”


After an hour-and-a-half-long break to allow for the next witness to arrive, court reconvened after 11 a.m.


The last witness of the morning was 31-year-old Charline Parlet, Marie Parlet's daughter.


Charline Parlet had been in a Santa Rosa treatment program and was released on Dec. 6, 2004, the day her mother was shot.


As Langan began questioning her about the events of that day, Charline Parlet began to weep, recalling how her mother was there at 6 a.m. that day to pick her up and take her home.


Remembering the day caused Parlet to break down, covering her face with her hands and saying, “I can't do this, you guys – I can't.”


Judge Mann called a 10-minute recess and had the jury removed from the courtroom. Parlet told the prosecution and her Victim-Witness advocate that she couldn't sit on the stand and look at Deason because she was so angry.


Deason – dressed casually in a pullover sweater and dark slacks – sat looking down at the defense table.


Mann excused Parlet and brought the jury back in to excuse them until Jan. 21. He informed the jury that a stipulation of Parlet's previous testimony will be prepared and read at that time, which will mean she will not have to return to the stand.


Langan told Lake County News that he expects to rest his case after reading the stipulation to the jury next week. At that point, Rhoades likely will begin presenting his defense of Deason.


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


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