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By: 170. t. daly | Date: May 3, 2010 |
Our judicial process does not seat jurors in capital murder cases that would object to the imposition of the death penalty. So what the Jury is doing in the penalty phase of deliberations in the Laguna Boulevard murders in Elk Grove in 2006, that claimed the lives of Jon Johnson and Mike Daly, has been nothing less than profound. It is their given task, imposed on them by the State of California to choose the penalty of death or the possibility of life in prison without parole. It is now their sole task to condemn Aaron Dunn to death or send him to prison for the rest of his life. That they have now taken three days to talk about this amongst themselves speaks to what a horrible imposition this is placed on their conscience for the rest of their own natural lives.

The State in our name wants twelve of its citizens to choose death, a sentence that most certainly will not occur in the jurors own lifetimes. So they would condemn a man to death, an outcome that will not take place until a generation or more has passed, and the responsibility of putting this man to death will be carried out by someone possibly yet unborn who will have no stake in what occurred that horrible night. Their thoughtful consideration of what they are about to do should be entertained by all of us. It is probably the most important decision they will ever make. I appreciate that this jury heard the evidence and convicted this man for what he did do to two outstanding men, loving fathers and husbands, brothers and friends, and what he also did to countless family members. Should they choose death for Aaron Dunn it will be largely symbolic and won’t mean anymore that the life in prison he will surely serve.
My hope is that they are resolved through thoughful process, to do what they think is right.

By: 169. The Sacramento Bee | Date: May 1, 2010 |
The Sacramento Bee
April 30, 2010
No verdict from death-penalty jury on Elk Grove spree killer
By Andy Furillo

Jurors went home today without reaching a decision in the penalty phase of the Aaron Norman Dunn murder trial.

The six-man, six-woman panel began deliberations Thursday on whether Dunn should be put to death or spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole for the March 25, 2006, shotgun spree-shooting deaths of Michael John Daly, 45, and Jon Johnson, in Elk Grove.

Dunn, 33, was convicted April 13 on two counts of first-degree murder. He also was convicted of trying to kill four other people, including two Elk Grove police officers, in his drug-fueled rampage on a Saturday night on Laguna Boulevard.

The jury is scheduled to resume deliberations Monday in Sacramento Superior Court.

By: 168. Diane McGarry | Date: May 1, 2010 |
Hi All, The jury went home for the weekend without reaching a decision on the verdict. This must be a very difficult decision for them. And they need to be unanimous. They will reconvene on Monday at 9AM PST. Diane

By: 167. The Sacramento Bee | Date: Apr 30, 2010 |
By Andy Furillo
Published: Friday, Apr. 30, 2010

Six men and six woman walked out of a Sacramento courtroom Thursday with grim looks on their faces and the weight of a man's life on their shoulders.

In deliberations that began in midafternoon and will continue today, the Sacramento Superior Court panel will decide whether convicted spree murderer Aaron Norman Dunn lives or dies for killing two men and trying to kill four others on a spring night in Elk Grove four years ago.

Deputy District Attorney Scott Triplett argued that the circumstances of Dunn's March 25, 2006, attack should tip the scales toward a death sentence. Dunn, enraged over the breakup of his marriage, shot up a Saturday night on Laguna Boulevard and killed cameraman Jon Johnson, 46, and Xerox salesman Michael John Daly, 45.

The shootings "annihilated" the men's lives right in front of their wives, and, in Daly's case, his two young children, Triplett said. The random shootings that night could have taken out "anybody you know," he said.

After Dunn, 33, killed Johnson, he danced in the street and waved his shotgun over his head. He told his mother afterward in a jailhouse conversation he didn't regret a bit of it.

"This man does not deserve the gift of leniency," Triplett told the jury.

Assistant Public Defender Amy Rogers and her partner, Hayes Gable III, acknowledged the horrific nature of the crimes. But they said Dunn's life was shattered by the loss of his wife and job, that he was set on a sick life's path by a father who shot up heroin in front of him and a mother who emotionally abandoned him, that his methamphetamine ingestion ruined his capacity to reflect on what he was doing that night.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm asking you to be compassionate, strong and noble," Rogers said. "Reject death. Come back with a verdict of life without possibility of parole."

Judge Michael W. Sweet gave the jury a list of 12 aggravating and mitigating factors it can consider in deciding whether to impose the death penalty on Dunn or to send him to prison for the rest of his life.

In going down the list, the deputy district attorney cited two recent attacks by Dunn on other inmates in the downtown jail, his 1993 assault of another Marysville High School student and his jumping of a bouncer during a 2005 bar fight. Triplett said Dunn's upbringing wasn't the best, but wasn't the worst, either.

The prosecutor asked the jury to stick by its finding in the guilt phase of Dunn's trial that dismissed the methamphetamine psychosis defense. He told them to remember what happened the night Dunn loaded up his shotgun and headed down to Elk Grove from Olivehurst.

"Now you're being asked to speak the conscience of the community," Triplett said. He added, "Capital punishment would be meaningless if it doesn't apply to this man."

In separate arguments, the two defense lawyers recounted Dunn's bizarre upbringing that set him on a path of drug use and juvenile delinquency.

His life stabilized, they said, with his marriage and the birth of his daughter. It lost its tether again, they said, when his wife dumped him for guys she met on the Internet. Then she took their daughter and walked out of his life.

Rogers and Gable said Dunn's methamphetamine use in the hours and days ahead of the murders did not excuse his attack but did help explain it.

Gable said that Dunn will die in prison no matter what, but that a jury ordering up his execution would only compound the tragedy.

"I submit to you, you do not have to kill Aaron Dunn to see that justice is done in this case," Gable said. The jury "can't undo the damage done," he said, "but what you can do is stop the killing right here … while at the same time seeing that justice is done for Jon Johnson and Michael Daly."


By: Grass | Date: Apr 28, 2010 |
Diane - Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts from the courtroom. More important, thanks for keeping this site, the memories, the music and the connections in a place where your family and Mike's friends can come together.

I know the birthday party would have been a ball.

Peace - Grass

By: 165. The Sacramento Bee | Date: Apr 27, 2010 |

Family describes killer's grim life
By Andy Furillo
Published: Tuesday, Apr. 27, 2010

When Dad didn't beat on the kids himself, he got his kicks watching Aaron Norman Dunn punch it out with his little brother. Occasionally, he ordered the boys outside to fight the neighborhood kids.

Later, when Dunn was about 12, their dad brought home a prostitute. So their mom left him and left the boys to live with a father who tied off his arm with a belt and shot up heroin in front of them. He also sold every piece of furniture in the house for dope, before he was imprisoned for ripping off his elderly mother.

"I cut it off from my memory," younger brother Patrick Dunn testified Monday about an early family life so bad the defense team for his older brother has made it Exhibit A for why its client shouldn't be executed.

Dunn, 33, has already been convicted in the March 25, 2006, Elk Grove shooting-spree murders of Jon Johnson, 46, and Michael John Daly, 45. A Sacramento Superior Court jury is now hearing evidence in the penalty phase of his trial to determine if he will be sentenced to death or life in prison with no chance of parole.

The defendant rested his head against a closed fist most of the day while his younger brother, sister and mother told of the family dysfunction while Dunn came of age in a Marysville apartment.

They attributed the ruin of Dunn's life to Vincent Thomas Dunn, who they said cheated on his wife with men as well as women, drank himself mean and nasty and moved into hard dope with abandon, even smoking crack with his younger boy.

Aaron Dunn's mother, Sandra Alice Adams, testified that her husband stayed home and tormented the kids while she worked 10-hour days at the local Salvation Army thrift shop.

"He just flew off the handle sometimes," she said.

Patrick Dunn and his sister, Sarah Parker, spoke warmly of their brother. Patrick Dunn called the defendant "the best" uncle. Parker said Aaron Dunn taught her how to tie her shoes and ride a bike and was there for the birth of her first child.

They said their brother was big on family gatherings, but that it all stopped when their mother remarried and moved to New Mexico.

Then he went into a downward spiral when his wife left him for men she met on the Internet, his siblings said.

"He was always kind of depressed," Parker testified. "He always wanted to keep to himself," sometimes in tears.

The worst part for Dunn, they testified, was the forced estrangement from his daughter. "That's the one thing that he loved the most," Parker said. "I think at times it got unbearable."

Parker said she called her mother the day before Dunn took off from Olivehurst to shoot up Laguna Boulevard in Elk Grove, killing Johnson and Daly, wounding another man and shooting at three other people, including two police officers.

"He's an adult," Parker said her mother responded. She said he'd be able to get through it, Parker said.

The sister said she would be "devastated" if the state puts Dunn to death, and so would her kids and those of her other brother, as well as the defendant's daughter.

"Terrible" is how Sandra Adams characterized the potential execution of her oldest boy. "You don't want to lose your son."

The defense is expected to conclude today before the jury deliberates on Dunn's punishment.


By: 164. Diane McGarry | Date: Apr 26, 2010 |
This will be my final "on the scene" report from Sacramento. I am leaving Sacramento and heading back to Fripp Tuesday.

Where do I start?

We are introduced to the brother, sister, mother, and family friends of the defendant. All of them are being called by the defense during the penalty phase to try to influence the jury before they finally get the case. The opening arguments outlined "The Life History of Aaron Dunn", and described the eight witnesses they would be calling over the next two days. (Mother, brother, sister, friend, family friend, sister-in-law, employer, and Social Historian)

We heard that his father spent time in prison, his brother and the defendant spent years in the California Youth Authority, and they all lived lives filled with drugs and alcohol abuse.

But before all this there were other developments concerning the incarceration of the defendant.

After the district attorney concluded last Thursday evening we learned that the defendant had been involved in another altercation at the jail after visiting hours. He had rigged his jail cell to show "closed" when it was in fact "open". Remember... he was an electrician by trade. I'm not sure how he was able to do that with his cell door, but he was able to leave his cell and start a fight with another inmate, and it was a serious fight until he was caught and "escorted to the ground" by the guards. The District Attorney wants to bring this information to the jury as he is allowed to show previous acts of violence. Last week we heard about his fights during high school, his fights during parties at bars, and his fights during his stay in the Sacramento County jail. This is one additional incident that Scott Triplett feels the jury should be entitled to know about. I guess we will hear more about this later in the week. Then the parade of family and friends followed.

Suffice it to say that the defendant had a pretty sad upbringing, with an uninterested and abusive father, an abused mother, and a series of friendships and family members who contributed to his alcohol and drug abuse. There was one childhood friend who gained my sympathy. He had been called to show the jury that, at one time, the defendant had been a regular guy with an opportunity to play sports, go to school, and have a life. Christoff Hangartner, friend from age 11, left California for Phoenix when he turned 18, enrolled in a technical institution, and has lived and worked in Arizona as a diesel mechanic for the last decade. He recalled many adolescent days with the defendant working and playing. The only reason I believe he was called is to confirm that the defendant's mom and dad were failures at parenting. I felt like this was the only person who had been able to escape the life of downward spirals we were hearing about. He made a choice that literally saved his life. I wonder if he knows how lucky he is.

The mother was timid, the brother seemed to be a gang member, and the sister cried as she recalled her brother teaching her to tie her shoes. We had to endure a dozen photos of the defendant playing soccer, little league baseball, and celebrating holidays with family in his childhood. We also heard about what a wonderful father he was until his life started unraveling. None of this in any way mitigated the fact that this man took the lives of two wonderful husbands, fathers, and family men in an instant on that Saturday night four years ago. Tomorrow we hear again from the sister-in-law Nancy Castillo and finally from the paid expert social historian who we are told "will put the pieces together" for all of us. We can only imagine what she will have to say.

The jury is expected to have the case for deliberation by Wednesday. We believe we will have a verdict in this the penalty phase within the same day.

By: 163. The sacramento Bee | Date: Apr 23, 2010 |
By Andy Furillo
Published: Friday, Apr. 23, 2010 -

Mike Daly still had breath in him after the doctors found people who would get his donated organs. It was time for his six brothers and sisters to say goodbye to him, forever.

They each got an hour alone. Last to go was his youngest and closest brother, Dave. Two years apart, Mike and Dave shared a lifetime passion for ice hockey and the rock 'n' roll of their youths.

Dave Daly brought his iPod into the room at the UC Davis Medical Center and cranked out a Neil Young tune with the intro Mike had mastered on guitar, plus favorites by Bob Dylan, Ted Nugent and the Grateful Dead, whom his brother had seen in concert 45 times, and "Horizon," because Mike Daly wrote it and played it like a pro with his own band.

When Dave went to kiss his brother, he was blocked by the wrappings left by doctors who treated Mike for a fatal gunshot wound.

"I couldn't kiss his face," Dave Daly testified Thursday, "so I kissed his hand."

He was the seventh and final witness in an afternoon of testimony in Sacramento Superior Court by friends and family of Xerox salesman Michael John Daly, 45, and local TV cameraman Jon Johnson, 46.

They told a jury of six men and six women about the pain and emptiness inflicted on their lives by Aaron Norman Dunn, the Olivehurst man convicted last week in the March 25, 2006, shotgun rampage in Elk Grove that killed Daly and Johnson. The jurors will decide his sentence for the first-degree murders with special-circumstances: life without parole or the county's first death sentence in four years.

Karen Johnson testified about a day's euphoric expectations turned into abject grief.

On the drive to Mandango's Bar and Grill, her husband spoke of plans to document on videotape the lives of African AIDS orphans and to go back to New Orleans to film the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"He looked at me and he said, 'Honey, this is going to be a great year,' " Karen Johnson testified. So good, he told her to pick out a new house.

Then Dunn shot Jon Johnson point blank in the face, right in front of her.

"Every time I closed my eyes, all I could see was Jon's face gone," she said. She couldn't work. Instead of moving into a new house, she lost the one she had to foreclosure.

From behind, it was impossible to tell how the 33-year-old defendant reacted to the testimony. He sat mostly motionless in his white shirt with dark stripes. He occasionally cupped his chin and spoke to his lawyers, Hayes Gable III and Amy Rogers.

Five other witnesses spoke of a pattern of violence that preceded Dunn's meth-induced killings on Laguna Boulevard, in a spree that followed the breakup of his marriage and his ex-wife taking up with other men.

A bouncer in a Yuba City bar testified he was attacked in 2005 by a man Deputy District Attorney Scott Triplett implied was Dunn. A former Marysville High classmate said Dunn kicked him in the face and chipped a tooth in an after-school incident in 1993. Jail deputies testified Dunn attacked an inmate in 2008.

The defense will put on its case to save Dunn's life when the trial's penalty phase resumes Monday.

Thursday belonged to the victims' survivors.

Pictures on the courtroom screen showed Johnson at work in the floodwaters of Katrina, at his wedding, with his oldest daughter on an outing in Reno.

"He was a kind person, a sweet person – gentle, kind-hearted, a humble person," said his sister, Lula Mae Johnson. "There's just a void there (now). I was so used to him calling me on holidays. … He never missed a beat."

The Daly family told of the Notre Dame philosophy major who hit Europe when he graduated from college and played guitar on the streets of Paris for spare change, a guy who fell for an Italian beauty he met in New York City and married in Las Vegas in a service presided over by an Elvis impersonator who sang "Love Me Tender."

Roberta Daly has since moved to Rome with their two children, Julia and William. She said that when she takes them to the park, William sits alone on the slide when other kids show up with their fathers.

"This is the worst part," she said, "because our dad never comes."


By: 162. Benny Landa | Date: Apr 22, 2010 |
I want you all to know how sorry i am to hear this news.i heard awhile back and it was tough to believe and digest.I met mike on bleeker street and played a couple of gigs with him here and there.But what i remember most is how much of a nice guy and mellow soul he was a sweet guy for sure always was smiling and loved what he was doing & his friends.And we all miss him..god bless you all..Benny Landa

By: 161. Keith Lentin | Date: Apr 20, 2010 | facebook.com/keithlentin, myspace.com/keithlentin
I have only recently found out about the tragic end to Mike's life. I met him at The Red Lion on Bleecker Street in the late '80's. I was doing a lot of gigs there with Zorki Nastasic. The Leaves (Mike, Kenny Gwynn, Mark West, Nat Seeley and Jeb) would often play the 1 to 4 am slot after us. Zorki and I often sat in with them. Over time, I did many gigs as their bass player when Mark couldn't make the gig. We played the Lion often and several gigs on Long Island in the Hamptons and Montauk. I remember Mike as a wonderful, warm-spirited guy who always had a smile and often had a Grateful Dead bootleg or other rarity playing in the car on the Long Island Expressway. Totally shocked by this news and told Zorki about it tonight. What a shame. One of the truly good guys. RIP - love you Mike. Great memories.

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