Sunday, December 6, 2015

Interesting districtular factoids: murder, NPR, propositions

Did you know that, thirty years ago, a Saddleback College administrator murdered someone in the nursing department?
     Yep. On Sept 16, 1984, the Times reported that a "Saddleback College Dean [has been] Held in [the] Shooting Death of His Wife [Dona Dawson of the nursing department at Saddleback College]."
     Then, on the 19th, the Times reported that "Saddleback Community College Assistant Dean Donald E. Dawson told his ex-wife's boyfriend that he 'killed Dona' minutes after he allegedly used two handguns to shoot her six times, Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. James Enright said Tuesday."
     On November 22, 1986, the Times reported that "A former assistant dean at Saddleback College, Donald E. Dawson, convicted of first-degree murder in the 1984 shooting of his ex-wife, told a Superior Court judge on Friday that he wanted to proceed with the sanity phase of his trial. Dawson had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity but a jury returned a guilty verdict Wednesday. Dawson was arrested immediately after shooting Dona Mae Dawson, 46, five times on the sidewalk near her El Toro home on Sept. 15, 1984." (See additional articles below.)
Did you know that Saddleback College’s radio station was once an NPR affiliate?
     According to the Times' "Saddleback trustees vote to drop NPR affiliation" (May 31, 1984), "Orange County lost its only National Public Radio station Tuesday when the Saddleback Community College District's Board of Trustees voted to change Saddleback College-based KSBR (88.5 FM) into…."
--Into what? Well, into a student-run station, I guess. I didn't pay for the whole article.

Did you know that the construction of IVC was delayed because of Prop 13?
     Well, according to the Times' "Saddleback's 2nd Campus Faces the Ax" (Jun 17, 1978), "The Saddleback Community College District, nearing the halfway point in building its planned second campus in Irvine, may not be able to complete it because of Proposition 13."
     Groundbreaking had occurred in November of 1977. At the time (Nov 12, 1977), the Times reported that the campus was "due to open next fall," i.e., the fall of 1978. In fact, however, the campus, then called "Saddleback College North Campus," did not open until January (spring) of 1979 (see Times, Jan 15, 1979). 
More about Donald Dawson:

Ex-Dean Found Guilty of 1st-Degree Murder in Shooting of Former Wife, LA Times, November 20, 1986
     Former Saddleback College Assistant Dean Donald E. Dawson was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of his ex-wife, but jurors rejected a prosecution claim that he was "lying in wait," which could have meant a sentence of life without parole.
     Despite the partial victory, Dawson was bitter about the jury's verdict, said his attorney, Ronald G. Brower.
     "He believes the jurors should have recognized the shooting occurred when he was in something like a psychotic state, a rage, and that legally it was a heat-of-passion shooting," Brower said.
     Killings that occur in the heat of passion are considered voluntary manslaughter in California, which was the verdict Brower sought from jurors. Dawson had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.…
     Dawson killed his former wife, Dona Mae Dawson, as she ran away from him down the sidewalk in front of her El Toro home at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 15, 1984. 
Resigned After Arrest
     According to evidence presented by both sides, Dawson had been trying to persuade his ex-wife to take him back and was upset to learn that she was seriously dating someone else.
     Dona Dawson, 46, at the time was director of the nursing department at Saddleback College. Dawson was assistant dean for Saddleback's division of technology and applied science. He resigned soon after his arrest the day of the shooting.
     About 2:30 that morning, while his ex-wife was spending the night with a boyfriend, Dawson had entered her house with a key she kept hidden. Evidence showed that he had waited part of that time in an upstairs bedroom with two guns, several boxes of ammunition, several pieces of rope and a pair of handcuffs.
     Dawson fired six shots at her with a .38-caliber handgun when she came through the door. All of them missed. But he felled her with a single shot fired as she ran down the sidewalk outside the house. Then, according to witnesses, he stood above her and fired four more shots into her. He stayed at the scene until police arrived and told them what had happened.
     At his trial, Dawson chose not to testify.
     Prosecutors filed the "special circumstances" allegation that he was lying in wait for her, claiming that he shot her after springing from a hidden position. Brower devoted many of his trial arguments to efforts to disprove that claim.
     Jurors on Wednesday rejected the special circumstances allegation.
     Normally, had the jury found that the special circumstances did apply, the trial would have gone into a separate penalty phase for jurors to choose between death or life without parole. But in Dawson's case, prosecutors did not seek the death penalty because of his lack of a criminal background. A sentence of life without parole can only be reduced by the governor.
     The first-degree murder verdict carries a sentence of 27 years to life, including two years for use of a firearm. Dawson would be eligible for parole in 13 1/2 years.
     But if Dawson were found insane, he would automatically be sent to a state hospital.
     Brower said after court Wednesday that before he decides whether to proceed with a sanity phase, he will have to do research to determine how long Dawson would probably have to remain committed to a hospital.
     "I think state mental hospitals are probably just as bad as prison," Brower said. "If a hospital commitment would be longer (than 13 1/2 years) it might not be worth going ahead." 
'Background of Depression'
     Dawson has been interviewed by half a dozen psychologists and psychiatrists, all of whom testified at his trial that he killed his ex-wife in a rage and that he was mentally unstable at the time. But they have not touched on the sanity issue yet.
     Brower said it was not out of character for Dawson to be bitter about the jury verdict.
"All the doctors have told us that he has a history of rejecting responsibility," Brower said. "He has a background of severe depression, very exaggerated mood swings."
     Dawson's parents and his brother, Robert, left the courtroom quickly after the verdict was read. An angry Robert Dawson told reporters, "Just leave us alone."
     Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. James G. Enright, who prosecuted the case, said afterward that he could not discuss the verdict in detail because of the possibility of a penalty phase. But he did say he was pleased with the first-degree murder verdict and not too surprised at the jury's rejection of the "lying in wait" claim.
     "That one was a close call; without any witnesses, we knew that one would be tough," Enright said.
     Dona Dawson's two sisters, who attended most of the trial, were not able to get to court Wednesday in time to hear the jury's verdict. But a close friend of the victim, Dorothy Williams, wept and whispered, "Thank you," as jurors left the courtroom. Lee Arth, a former professor at Rio Hondo College who had known both the Dawsons for about 15 years, was in court for the verdict too.
     "It was a fair verdict, considering what Don did," Arth said.
Parole denied for killer of ex-wife, OC Register, Aug 1, 2001
     The confrontation exploded in front of the house, where Dawson pumped five bullets into her back.
     Then the scholar poured himself a glass of wine.
     In rejecting Dawson's first bid for freedom, the parole board agreed with prosecutors that he remains, in essence, a serial philanderer whose lust for control drove him to kill.
     Dawson, who was convicted of first-degree murder, is serving a sentence of 27 years to life at a medium-security prison in San Luis Obispo.
. . .
     Dawson, who has a master's in criminal justice, is a quiet inmate who has caused no problems during his 13 years at the California Men's Colony….
...
     Dona Mae Dawson was 46 and about to become assistant director of the nursing program at Saddleback College when she was murdered.
. . .
     Donald E. Dawson swears he's a new man…
     He swears he's no longer the person who 17 years ago gunned down his former wife in front of her Lake Forest home in a crime that stunned colleagues, friends and family members.
     On Tuesday, a parole board didn't buy his story and told the former college administrator he will have to wait four years to make his case again.
     He will be 67 then.
     The board still thinks he poses a danger to society, '' said Denise Schmidt, spokeswoman for the Board of Prison Terms in Sacramento.
     Dawson became obsessed with his former wife after their divorce in 1982, prosecutors say.
     One night, the former police officer, Navy intelligence investigator and assistant dean at Saddleback College broke into her home and waited.
     Several hours later, Dawson – incensed that Dona Mae Dawson was seeing another man – fired his .45-caliber pistol when she walked in the door, hitting her thigh.
...
     Dixie Bullock, president of the college in Mission Viejo, said Donald Dawson doesn't deserve freedom.
...
     In 1996, a Santa Maria woman married Dawson.
...
     According to [Prosecutor] Middleton, Donald Dawson has kept his reason for being in prison a secret from Marianne's children.
     They think he works for the California Department of Corrections on undercover assignments, ' Middleton said.
     In papers submitted to the parole board, Dawson stated, I did not love my previous wives, but I love my current one.''
     That statement chills Middleton
     It shows his contradictory nature, '' the prosecutor said. To me, it shows that he now has another obsession.''

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Shawshank Redemption!

Anonymous said...

Saddleback also had a drama student killed in the parking lot near the Fine Arts building after a drama party. The murderer, as I recalled, admitted to the crime when he was arrested in Chicago for another murder. He just happened to be in that lot as the young woman was walking to her car.

Roy Bauer said...

Yes, we've referred to the BRANDLEY case previously: HERE
http://dissenttheblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/killer-of-saddleback-student-in-1986.html

Dora Ali said...

He just happened to be in that lot as the young woman was walking to her car.http://business.afu.ac.ae/en/Bs-college-council/

The return of the curious "Shooting Star" saga

     Back in 2012, I wrote a series of posts about the mysterious sinking, in 1974, of the yacht "Shooting Star," which took th...