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Dally Jury Deadlocks on Death Sentence

Courts: Mistrial declared in Ventura murder case. Prosecutors to decide whether to try again with new panel.

April 25, 1998|TRACY WILSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"It was the first time he ever showed emotions in the last two years," said his 21-year-old niece, Hannah Murray, who testified during the guilt phase of the trial. "It was the first time people saw he has a soft bone or an emotion in his body."

"I think it's good Mike took the stand and expressed himself," added Lawrence Dally. "I thought he did everything from his heart."

But English said she was disgusted with Dally's testimony this week.

"What he was saying was garbage. I didn't believe a word he said," English said. "I still see him as someone who wants everyone to pay attention to him, like, 'Look at me.' He's arrogant."

But even so, English said she is not sure whether Dally deserves life in prison or death.

"I don't know how I want it to end," she said. "I just want it to end."

John Mostachetti, a juror in the Haun trial, also said he is not sure if Dally deserves death--but at any rate, "he deserves it more than Diana Haun.'

"He's the Charles Manson in this whole thing," Mostachetti said. "He was the manipulator. I think he's a pretty terrible person.

"I have to ask what kind of father has he been," Mostachetti added. "Certainly, I would not spare his life because I felt bad for his kids. He's a bad man, and I don't think he's much of a father."

Reached at home Friday night, Sherri Dally's mother, Karlyne Guess, declined to comment on the mistrial.

Meanwhile, attorney John Malmo, who represented the Guesses in their civil case against Haun, said he is unsure if the family would favor a retrial of the penalty phase.

"I'm sure it would be hard on them," he said. "It's an ordeal for everyone involved and no one comes out a winner."

Times staff writers Fred Alvarez, Hilary E. MacGregor, Miguel Bustillo, Chris Chi and Scott Hadly contributed to this story.

* UPHILL FIGHT: A second penalty phase may be futile, observers say. B1

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Key Dates in Dally Murder Case

May 6, 1996--Sherri Dally disappears from the Target parking lot in Ventura. Witnesses later testify before the Ventura County Grand Jury that they saw a woman matching her description get into the back of a teal-colored car.

May 18--Diana Haun is arrested in connection with the disappearance but later released. No charges are filed.

June 1--A search party finds Dally's remains in a ravine off Canada Larga Road north of Ventura.

June 5--Coroner says Dally was beaten and stabbed to death.

Aug. 1--Haun is arrested on suspicion of killing Dally.

Aug. 16--The grand jury indicts Haun on charges of murder and kidnapping.

Nov. 15--Michael Dally is arrested in connection with his wife's slaying and is indicted on charges of murder, conspiracy, kidnapping and special-circumstance allegations making him eligible for the death penalty. Haun is re-indicted on the same charges.

Dec. 4--Haun and Dally enter pleas of not guilty.

Dec. 20--The district attorney announces the death penalty will be sought.

May 30, 1997--The judge rules that Dally and Haun cannot get a fair trial in Ventura County because of heavy pretrial publicity, and decides a jury from Santa Barbara County should be bused to the Ventura courthouse to hear the case.

June 17--The judge decides that Dally and Haun should have separate trials.

June 30--Jury selection begins in Haun's trial in Santa Barbara. During the next month, a dozen jurors and six alternates are selected.

Aug. 4--Haun's trial begins.

Sept. 26--Jury finds Haun guilty of conspiracy, kidnapping and murder in the slaying of Sherri Dally.

Oct. 20--Penalty phase begins.

Oct. 27--Jury spares Haun from execution and recommends life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Nov. 24--Judge imposes the jury's finding. Haun is sentenced to life in prison.

Dec. 15--Jury selection begins in Dally's trial in Santa Barbara, with a panel of 12 regular and six alternate jurors selected during the next month.

Feb. 9, 1998--Dally's trial begins.

March 31--Jury begins deliberations after four days of closing arguments.

April 6--Jury finds Dally guilty of all charges, plus both special circumstance allegations in the case, making the defendant eligible for the death penalty.

April 20--Penalty phase of the trial begins. Dally, called as the last witness, takes the stand in his own defense and is questioned for nearly two days by prosecutors.

April 22--Jury begins deliberations.

April 24--Jury deadlocks on death penalty, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial. Prosecutors must now decide whether to pursue a second penalty trial. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for May 11.

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