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Dally Murder Case Attracts Hollywood

May 19, 2000|GAIL DAVIS

Four years have passed since the gruesome murder of Sherri Dally, a 35-year-old day-care worker.

But the murder and the high-profile trial of Michael Dally and his lover, Diana Haun, have caught the attention of Hollywood.

This week film crews from "Arrest & Trial," a syndicated "reality series" premiering in October on KCOP, visited Ventura to interview officials involved with the case.

The half-hour show will run weeknights and feature a different homicide or other major crime each night, said Pam Golum of "Arrest & Trial."

Those involved with the Dally case are used to media interest. The show is the second "reality series" in the past month to visit Ventura.

The other syndicated series, tentatively titled "The New Detective," will debut this fall as well.

"This case generated a lot of public interest because of the horrendous facts involved, so I'm not surprised they were interested," said Lela Henke-Dobroth, chief deputy district attorney.

Henke-Dobroth and police investigators recounted details of the crime for the film crew, telling how Sherri Dally disappeared on the morning of May 6, 1996, from a Target Store parking lot.

They also told how Michael Dally and Haun conspired to murder Sherri Dally and how the victim was murdered with an ax and her body dumped into a ravine.

Sherri Dally's skeletal remains were found a month later in the hills between Ventura and Ojai.

Michael Dally and Diana Haun were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Dallys' two young sons now live with Michael Dally's parents.

Cpl. Sean Conroy, part of the Ventura Police Department's investigation team, said that while the television show will allow the public to hear that justice was done in the case, his two-hour interview brought up images he has been trying to forget.

Investigators looked at Sherri Dally as they would their own wives, he said. She was an ordinary mom who had done nothing wrong.

Most homicides he investigates are related to drug deals gone bad, Conroy said. But Dally was a wife trying to win her husband back from another woman, and all the while he was plotting her murder, he said.

"There are so many cases I never think about," he said. "But this is one I think about."

Interviewers asked detectives about their work on the case and how it affected their personal lives.

Ventura Sgt. Skip Young, who was also interviewed, said the case was "the most gut-wrenching of homicides that we had to work."

"We lived it every day for almost a month before the body was found," he said.

Conroy told the interviewers he was glad Michael Dally and Diana Haun got life in prison rather than the death sentence, because it will mean a tougher time in prison.

"Michael Dally is going to have to survive in the general prison population, and I don't think he's going to find those other prisoners as easily to manipulate as he did Diana Haun," Conroy said.

The film crew and producers drew the same conclusion as the jury, Young said, that cold-blooded was the only way to describe Michael Dally and Diana Haun.

Besides the interviews, the crews filmed key locations in the murder case, Golum said.

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