Suspect in death of wife held on murder charge after evidentiary hearing in Nevada County court
A Nevada County judge didn’t buy a defense argument regarding intent, ruling Thursday after a preliminary hearing that there was enough evidence to hold a 73-year-old man on a charge of murder in the death of his wife last fall.
Dennis Michael Daly will be formally arraigned for the murder of 63-year-old Stacey Sokol Daly in Nevada Superior Court on June 22. He remained in custody Thursday on an increased bail of $500,000.
Authorities allege Stacey Daly died Nov. 2 after lapsing into a coma caused by being repeatedly punched in the face and head by Dennis Daly during an argument on Oct. 30.
Grass Valley police had responded to the Daly residence several times on Oct. 30, officers testified during the hearing Thursday. Officer Evan Butler testified that on the first occasion, Stacey Daly denied any physical altercation and repeatedly insisted her husband had not done anything.
Officer Paul McCallum testified that he went to the residence later that day and Stacey said Dennis hit her with a closed fist in the face and shoulder five or six times, and tried to gouge her left eye out.
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Stacey said she had begged her husband to stop, but he continued, McCallum testified, adding, “She said she was afraid he was going to kill her.”
McCallum said Dennis Daly had admitted to a verbal argument that began after he drank a bottle of Grand Marnier and after Stacey had poured out a bottle of sherry. Ongoing stress from losing their home in the Camp Fire was cited. Stacey Daly did not appear incoherent or disoriented at that time.
Dennis Daly was arrested on a spousal abuse charge and was served with an emergency protective order, but his wife refused medical treatment.
Dr. Thomas Long testified that Stacey Daly sought treatment at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital on Oct. 31, after being referred there by her primary care physician. She reported having been punched in the face and said she had a headache, Long said.
Long testified that he ordered a CT scan, which showed multiple areas of hematomas to the brain, and no facial fractures.
“It alarmed me because it is life threatening, more so in a patient on anti-coagulants,” Long testified.
Stacey Daly had left the hospital against medical advice before the scan results came back, Long said.
Officers conducting a welfare check on the hospital’s request took Stacey back for treatment and she was flown to Mercy San Juan Medical Center. Butler testified that when he returned to the Daly residence, Stacey showed a rapid decline in mental status.
Forensic pathologist Sarah Avedschmidt testified at length as to the different types of brain bleeding she found during Stacey Daly’s autopsy. Avedschmidt noted Stacey suffered from hypertension and was on medication that would make her more prone to bleeding. She said she determined the cause of death to be intracranial hemorrhaging following a physical assault.
Dennis Daly’s defense attorney, Jennifer Granger, argued that while there was a physical altercation, he did not intend to kill Stacey.
“This is not a murder,” Granger said. “At most, this is involuntary manslaughter.”
Deputy District Attorney Cambria Lisonbee disagreed, telling Judge Scott Thomsen, “Whether or not he intended to kill her is irrelevant … He was voluntarily intoxicated and unlawfully killed her with implied malice” — meaning that even if a killing is unintentional, malice is implied when the defendant consciously disregards a risk to human life.
Thomsen noted that Dennis hitting Stacey was an intentional act and cited the fact that as a married couple, he would know of her medical conditions.
“I think that adds to the element of action and intent, the cause and effect,” he said.
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
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