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Court Upholds Dally Conviction

February 01, 2001|ANNA GORMAN

An appellate court Wednesday affirmed the murder conviction of Michael Dally, found guilty in 1998 of plotting with his lover to kill his wife.

The state 2nd District Court of Appeal in Ventura issued a ruling saying there was sufficient proof that Dally abducted and killed his wife Sherri to avoid a costly divorce. Dally was convicted of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy, along with special circumstances of financial gain and lying in wait.

The Superior Court sentenced Dally to life in prison without parole after a jury deadlocked on whether to impose a death sentence. Dally's lover, Diana Haun of Port Hueneme, was also convicted of murder and kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison without parole. The appellate court earlier rejected Haun's appeal.

The appellate justices disagreed with the argument by Dally's attorney that the court erred when it allowed evidence on Dally's adulterous relationships and his cocaine use. They also disagreed with the argument that the prosecutor had improperly maligned the Ventura man's character and referred to facts not in evidence, such as a comment by Haun to a co-worker that she and Dally planned to kill his wife.

But the appellate court did agree that a "lying in wait" circumstance--or that Dally was watching and waiting for an opportune time to attack the victim--should be dismissed. That does not, however, have any effect on the sentence.

Sanjay T. Kumar with the office of the state attorney general said he was glad the justices rejected Dally's appeal. "We're pleased with the decision," he said. "It was a horrific crime."

Sherri Dally was abducted from a retail store parking lot on May 6, 1996, and stabbed with a knife and beaten with an ax before her body was dumped in a ravine north of Ventura.

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