Nevada County judge declares hung jury in murder case
Special to the Sierra Sun
A jury was unable Monday to reach a verdict in the murder trial of Dennis Daly, the 73-year-old Vietnam veteran accused of brutally beating his wife in 2019.
The forewoman of the Truckee jury told visiting Judge Elliot Lee Daum they could not reach a verdict on the charge of murder or on a lesser charge of assault using force likely to cause great bodily injury, leading Daum to declare a mistrial.
Dennis Daly was arrested in late October 2019 after authorities alleged he punched wife Stacey Sokol Daly, 63, repeatedly in the head. Stacey Daly died Nov. 2, 2019, after lapsing into a coma.
“The jury wasn’t convinced that there was evidence to support that Daly committed ‘great bodily injury,’” defense counsel Jennifer Granger said after the mistrial was declared. “The jurors also made it clear that there was reasonable doubt that Mr. Daly had caused Mrs. Daly’s death.”
Daly will return to Nevada County Superior Court on March 18, either to set a new trial date or to reach a resolution.
The jury had been hung 11 to 1 to acquit Daly of murder, said Granger, adding, “The District Attorney’s Office should not re-try the murder charge.”
Deputy District Attorney Cambria Lisonbee could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
During the trial in Nevada County Superior Court, Lisonbee sought to convince the jury that Stacey Daly’s death was caused by having been beaten by her husband.
Dennis Daly’s sister, Eileen, asked for a welfare check after Stacey called her during the altercation. Stacey denied to Grass Valley police officers that Dennis hit her, but called later and admitted he had been physical, Lisonbee said.
Stacey Daly told the responding officers on the second call that Dennis punched her and that she thought he was going to kill her. Dennis was arrested on domestic violence charges, but Stacey refused medical treatment.
The next day, Stacey Daley went to the hospital and a CT scan was performed, but she left before getting the results. The emergency room physician believed her injuries to be life-threatening and police officers were dispatched to check on her a third time.
Stacey Daly’s condition had deteriorated to the point where an ambulance was called and she was eventually flown to a regional trauma center. A new CT scan was performed there that showed a second, larger, brain bleed. Stacey Daly was placed on life support before she died.
Lisonbee told the jury that there was enough evidence to convict Dennis Daly of murder because he acted with conscious disregard for human life. Lisonbee argued there was “implied” malice because he beat his wife multiple times, knowing of her underlying medical conditions and knowing his actions could cause her death.
Stacey Daly would not have died if she hadn’t been beaten, Lisonbee said.
Lisonbee discounted post-traumatic stress disorder as a valid defense, noting Dennis Daly had characterized his mood as stable and denied any need for antidepressants during an appointment at the VA hospital prior to the assault.
Granger, however, argued there was no evidence her client was guilty of murder with “malice aforethought,” meaning an intent to kill or harm, telling the jury there was “substantial doubt” Dennis caused Stacey’s death.
Granger told the jury Stacey Daly showed no sign of neurological deterioration until the third welfare check, that her death was due to the second brain hemorrhage and was unrelated to any trauma caused by the physical assault.
“I’m not here to get down on Stacey,” she said. “But the point is, she had a history of being under- and over-medicated on anticoagulant medications.”
Granger noted Stacey Daly had sent the police away on the first welfare check, then called them because she was worried he was possibly going to drive drunk. During the second call for service, Granger said, Stacey was upset and “embellished what happened.”
Liz Kellar is a staff writer for The Union, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun. To contact Liz, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
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