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Ex-LAPD detective gets 20 years for killing wife in Hawaii

May 23, 2013|By Andrew Blankstein
  • Retired LAPD detective Dan DeJarnette, who worked on several high-profile homicide cases, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the killing of his wife.
Retired LAPD detective Dan DeJarnette, who worked on several high-profile… (Hawaii Police Department )

A former Los Angeles police homicide detective was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in a Hawaiian prison for fatally beating his wife with a tire jack, authorities said.

Dan DeJarnette, 59, pleaded guilty in March to manslaughter in the case. The plea came shortly before the retired LAPD detective was to face trial in the death of his wife, Yu DeJarnette, 56, who was found in November 2006 on a lava embankment a short distance from the couple's home in Ka'u, on the southern end of the Big Island.

At sentencing, Judge Ronald Ibarra said that while DeJarnette had a commendable career in law enforcement, he did the opposite in killing his wife in an act he called "shameful."

The retired LAPD detective initially told police he woke up and found his wife outside the home suffering from injuries after falling over an embankment while hanging laundry out to dry.

An autopsy later determined that she died of two gaping wounds suffered from two blows with a tire iron. One of the blows left a scallop pattern consistent with the jack.

Paint chips from the object were also found in the victim's hair. Yu DeJarnette also had conspicuous abrasions from being dragged over lava rocks shortly before or after her death.

That led to the arrest of her husband, who was booked on suspicion of murder. But citing lack of evidence, prosecutors at the time did not file charges in the case.

DeJarnette was eventually released due to what was described at the time as a lack of evidence.

But in January 2012, deputy prosecutor Linda Walton was assigned the case and undertook a thorough review. The follow-up investigation had additional blood evidence tested that further linked DeJarnette to the death.

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

A Hawaiian grand jury indicted DeJarnette, leading to his arrest in May 14, 2012.

The indictment came days after former LAPD Det. Stephanie Lazarus was sentenced to 27 years to life in prison, with the possibility of parole, in the 1986 killing of Sherrie Rae Rasmussen, her former boyfriend's wife.

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

He handled several high-profile investigations, including the probes into 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 murder of a newlywed in her Sherman Oaks home by a serial rapist.

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

She also had consulted with a divorce attorney on whether she would be entitled to half of her husband's property and pension should the couple split. A year before her death, DeJarnette had taken out an insurance police on his wife but was unable to collect because of the suspicious circumstances involving her death.

In court, Walton said DeJarnette had finished repairing bathroom tiles about 5 a.m. Nov. 12, 2006, when his wife told him she was leaving him. He then hit her with a jack stand.

Walton noted at sentencing that DeJarnette left out portions of the story and lied. Rather than repairing tiles, the prosecutors said evidence showed he removed tiles to clean up the blood.

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Twitter: @anblanx |Facebook | Google +

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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