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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.

By: 160. Diane McGarry | Date: Apr 19, 2010 |
Happy Birthday Bro,

We would have surprised you wherever you were.
And I'm sure you would have been...

Love you forever.


By: 159. del | Date: Apr 18, 2010 |
50+ forever... Mike Daly lives on...

By: 158. Del | Date: Apr 18, 2010 |
Miss you bad, Mike. Toasted you today in Cali with CB, Bridget,Tom, Mary and Lisa... You're still with me every day, brother. I love you, always..


By: 157. Dave de A | Date: Apr 18, 2010 |
Mike, Happy 50th wherever you are . . . Wish you were here . . .

By: 156. Kristan Schoel | Date: Apr 14, 2010 |
Hi Roberta - It is Kristan - MJ's (Mackenzie's) mom from EduCare - Julia's friend. I have thought about you and prayed for you and your family these past four years. So happy to hear the verdict on the news the other day. Don't know if you are stil in Italy but we hope you are all doing well and wanted to let you know we are thinking of you.

By: 155. tdaly | Date: Apr 14, 2010 |
Mike was born in Sacramento and died in the same hospital where his daughter Julia was born. Yet he traveled the world in-between, and only came back to Sacramento to raise a family near his parents, so that his children might know who their grandparents were. And they did. Mike and his family were there for the last years of Grandpa’s life and then death. They were out with family celebrating Grandma’s 87th birthday the night their papa died.

Aaron Dunn took the breath away from my brother with Julia and William strapped into car seats behind him and Roberta beside him.

The act of horror that claimed my brother’s life has continued to decay at the personal relationships within my family. We don’t talk to each other or hold each other in the same regard. It was Mike who kept us all together. It was Mike who could see the good in each one. It was Mike who could look at each one of us as different as we are and let each one know he loved them. Without his insight and perspective we are not as close as we would have been. So the man who killed him continues to exercise such dominion over the rest of us by the act in which he took the life of one of us.

I believe that if Mike were here, he would not let that happen. At any cost he would have kept us talking and listening to each other. He would not tolerate how we treat one another. And he would know how to make it stop. Mike was bigger than the pettiness and irrelevances that life is scattered with for the rest of us.

This trial and all the events around it are a part of my Brother Mike’s life and legacy. His life was profound. I would hope that his death could be as striking. In the name of the brother I knew, the kind man who could see through walls of hatred, and whose life will transcend this moment and all that follows, may his children grow up with that message to contrast all others here. You cannot make us hate. You cannot turn our lives into what your life has become. You have no power to harm us any further.

Total Entries: 177
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