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Retired LAPD homicide detective admits killing wife

Dan DeJarnette, who had retired to Hawaii, pleads guilty to manslaughter after bludgeoning his wife, Yu, with a jack stand for a car.

March 26, 2013|By Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times
  • Retired LAPD homicide Det. Dan DeJarnette faces up to 20 years in prison in his wife's death.
Retired LAPD homicide Det. Dan DeJarnette faces up to 20 years in prison… (Hawaii Police )

A retired LAPD homicide detective pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with the fatal beating of his wife in Hawaii seven years ago, authorities said Monday.

Dan DeJarnette, 59, who was arrested at his Big Island home in May, pleaded guilty March 15 to manslaughter while under extreme emotional distress. He faces up to 20 years in prison in connection with the slaying of his wife, 56-year-old Yu DeJarnette, whose body was found in November 2006 on a lava embankment about 20 feet from the couple's home in Ka'u on the southern end of the island.

Police said he bludgeoned her with a jack stand for a car.

According to police, DeJarnette said he had awakened to find his wife outside the home suffering from injuries in a fall over an embankment while hanging laundry to dry. An autopsy determined that she died from head trauma, and DeJarnette was booked on suspicion of murder. The former LAPD detective, who moved to Hawaii after his retirement in 2003, was eventually released because of a lack of evidence.

After the case languished, Hawaiian authorities took another look at it in January 2012. After additional investigation that included testing of DNA evidence, prosecutors secured an indictment against DeJarnette from a Hawaii grand jury, leading to his arrest in May 2012.

The evidence suggested that DeJarnette used a bleaching-type agent to try to clean up blood in the bathroom, but could not eliminate it completely. Further testing eventually showed his wife's blood on items recovered from the home.

The indictment came days after former LAPD Det. Stephanie Lazarus was sentenced to 27 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole for killing her former boyfriend's wife nearly three decades ago in a fit of rage and jealousy.

DeJarnette worked as a homicide detective in the Van Nuys Division and investigated rape cases while assigned to the Robbery-Homicide Division's Rape Special Section.

During his time as a detective, DeJarnette handled several high-profile investigations, including a fatal Christmas night shooting at an Echo Park pizza parlor in 1990, the 1993 stabbing death of a pregnant woman at an automated teller machine in Sherman Oaks and the 1981 cold-case killing by a serial rapist of a newlywed in her Sherman Oaks home.

DeJarnette, who joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1982, moved to Hawaii after his retirement in 2003. But by 2006, the marriage was showing signs of strain. Yu DeJarnette had told co-workers at the Kona grocery store where she worked that she wanted to leave her husband, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

Authorities said that in his plea, DeJarnette said that after Yu DeJarnette slapped him, he hit her twice in the head in a bathroom of their home with a jack stand, an accessory that auto mechanics use to hold a car that has been raised off the ground. His wife's body was dragged outside and thrown over the embankment.

DeJarnette had also taken out a $300,000 life insurance policy on his wife, but was unable to collect because he was long considered a suspect in the case.

DeJarnette is eligible for parole. Without the plea, he faced the possibility of life in prison.

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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