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Attorney general says he'll look into fatal sailboat crash prosecution

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Attorney General Jerry Brown said in an online post on Tuesday, June 23, 2009, that he's looking into the prosecution of Carmichael resident Bismarck Dinius. Courtesy photo.

 

 

LAKE COUNTY – California Attorney General Jerry Brown said Tuesday that he plans to look into the case of a Carmichael man who is being tried for a fatal 2006 sailboat crash.


Sailors and supporters of 41-year-old Bismarck Dinius have posted dozens of messages on Brown's Facebook page since June 18, calling on Brown to take over handling of the case.


On the night of April 29, 2006, Dinius was at the tiller of a sailboat that was hit by a powerboat driven by Russell Perdock, an off-duty sheriff's deputy. Willows resident Lynn Thornton – fiancée of the sailboat's owner, Mark Weber – was mortally wounded and died days later at UC Davis Medical Center.


Dinius has been charged with vehicular manslaughter involving a boat because he allegedly was under way without running lights, which he, Weber and several witnesses dispute. He's also facing a boating under the influence charge because he allegedly had a blood alcohol level of 0.12 at the time of the crash. Perdock was not charged.


Dinius' attorney, Victor Haltom of Sacramento, has filed a motion to have District Attorney Jon Hopkins and his office recused from the case.


That motion – due to be heard June 30 – is Haltom's second attempt to have Hopkins and his office removed from the case.


The sailing community, which has been outspoken in its defense of Dinius since charges were filed against him in the spring of 2007, began posting on Brown's site late last week, calling the case everything from a “mess” to a “fiasco” and a “travesty.”


The first post, by Alan Bock, called on Brown to look into the case.


Most posts followed on Friday and over the weekend, with more sailors and supporters joining the effort on Monday and Tuesday.


Around 1 p.m. Tuesday Brown responded.


“Re: the Lake County comments on my wall – I’m talking to the DA and I’m looking into it. There’s conflicting claims – the preliminary hearing transcript is voluminous,” Brown wrote.


“I can confirm that's from him and that it speaks for itself,” Attorney General's Office spokesman Scott Gerber told Lake County News on Tuesday afternoon.


Gerber said he had no other information on the case or its status at this point.


Hopkins wouldn't confirm any discussions with Brown.


He told Lake County News on Thursday that he didn't want to comment on anything to do with the case at this time.


Hopkins, who said he is doing a “a complete in-depth analysis” of the case, is preparing for the June 30 motions hearing.


He announced on June 12 that he was moving forward with the prosecution, after taking over the case from Deputy District Attorney John Langan, who was the assigned prosecutor since the start of 2008.


Langan had told visiting Judge J. Michael Byrne at a hearing on May 19 – the original trial date – that he might have to drop the case if District Attorney's Office investigators weren't able to complete their investigation of new information by June 30, the new trial date Byrne set.


The new information included supporting statements about orders given to former sheriff's Sgt. James Beland, who said he wanted to give Perdock a breathalyzer test on the night of the crash but was forbidden to do so.


New witnesses also had come forward to allegedly place Perdock at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa in the hours before the crash, as Lake County News has reported.


Perdock told Lake County News last month that he didn't set foot on the resort that day.


Following Brown's online announcement, sailors continued to make posts on his Facebook wall, thanking him for considering the case.


By Tuesday night approximately 70 messages on the Dinius case had been posted since the first messages were left last week.


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

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