Sunday, 16 June 2024

Trial over 2006 sailboat crash moved to May

LAKE COUNTY – The trial of a Carmichael man accused of felony manslaughter for an April 2006 boating crash has been moved to May.


Bismarck Dinius, 40, was scheduled to go on trial this month for felony vehicle manslaughter involving a boat and boating under the influence.


However, Deputy District Attorney John Langan – who took over prosecuting the case when Deputy District Attorney David McKillop left for a job in Kern County – is currently in the midst of retrying the David Deason murder case, so he requested the case be moved to May.


The move "was requested by Mr. Langan and I didn't oppose it," said Dinius' defense attorney, Victor Haltom of Sacramento.


Dinius was at the tiller of a sailboat owned by Willows resident Mark Weber on the night of April 29, 2006, when the boat was struck by a speedboat driven by Russell Perdock, then a chief deputy in the Lake County Sheriff's Office, as Lake County News has reported. Due to a reclassification of agency rankings, Perdock is now listed as a captain with the sheriff's office.


Weber's fiancée, 51-year-old Lynn Thornton, was fatally injured in the collision and died a few days later.


The District Attorney's Office charged Dinius with manslaughter for reasons including the alleged failure to be under way with the sailboat's running lights on. The case also alleges that Dinius had a blood alcohol level of 0.12, which is above the legal limit of 0.08.


Last summer, following a lengthy preliminary hearing, Judge Richard Martin ordered Dinius to stand trial on the charges.


As he waits for the spring – jury selection is now scheduled to begin on May 19 – Haltom said he has an investigation under way, and is having a blood sample that he said is Perdock's retested.


Haltom said McKillop had offered a deal of misdemeanor manslaughter, which he refused. "We're not willing to accept any resolution that has my client admitting being the cause of Lynn Thornton's death because it's our position that somebody else was the cause of her death.”


However, District Attorney Jon Hopkins was adamant that he never authorized a plea bargain deal.


“I can guarantee you that no offer was ever made,” he said.


Hopkins said he had conversations with McKillop throughout the initial stages of the case up until McKillop left. There are always discussions between attorneys regarding possible case settlement, Hopkins said; however, he said McKillop never asked him to discuss plea bargaining.


Last year, an involved civil lawsuit over the case was settled. Haltom said Perdock's insurance policy paid out the maximum amount – $300,000, according to KGO TV – which he said “would raise the eyebrows of an objective observer.”


Dinius' insurance also paid $300,000, and Weber's $100,000, according to KGO's coverage of the civil lawsuit.


Haltom said Dinius is having to spend “a ridiculous amount of money” to defend himself. He added that the best possible outcome for the case, in his decision, would be to dismiss the charges against Dinius and file charges against Perdock.


While trials are always risky, Haltom said he expects to have a positive outcome for his client, “assuming I have rational jurors.”


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


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