Trial begins for 73-year-old suspect in wife’s murder
Did the 73-year-old Vietnam veteran brutally beat his wife “in a drunken rage,” killing her, as prosecutor Cambria Lisonbee told the jury?
Or was the death of Stacey Sokol Daly due to other factors and not the physical assault by Dennis Michael Daly, argued defense counsel Jennifer Granger.
The opposing viewpoints were presented Thursday afternoon as Dennis Daly’s murder trial got underway in a Truckee courtroom.
Daly was arrested in late October 2019 after authorities alleged he punched Stacey, 63, repeatedly in the head. Stacey Daly died Nov. 2, 2019, after lapsing into a coma, and Dennis was subsequently charged with murder and assault using force likely to cause great bodily injury.
He has pleaded not guilty.
During opening statements in Nevada County Superior Court, Lisonbee told the jury that Dennis Daly’s sister, Eileen, had called 911 for a welfare check when Stacey called her during the altercation. Stacey denied to officers that Dennis hit her, but called later and admitted he had been physical, Lisonbee said.
According to Lisonbee, Stacey Daly told the responding officers on the second call that Dennis “pummeled” 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, however, she went to see her physician, who referred her to the hospital, Lisonbee said. There, a CT scan was performed, but Stacey Daly left before getting the results. The emergency room physician believed her injuries to be life-threatening and Grass Valley police officers were dispatched to check on her a third time. By then, Lisonbee said, 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 and showed a second, larger, brain bleed, Lisonbee said. Stacey Daly was placed on life support until her son could get there to say goodbye, before she died from the “brutal beating by the man she loved,” Lisonbee added.
Dennis Daly’s defense attorney, Jennifer Granger, agreed the evidence was disturbing. But, she said, there is no evidence her client is guilty of murder with “malice aforethought,” meaning an intent to kill or harm, or that he even caused Stacey’s death.
Granger sought to portray Dennis Daly in a sympathetic light, calling him a veteran who had gone to Vietnam as a “gung-ho kid eager to serve his country.”
Daly returned from combat that included the Tet Offensive with lifelong PTSD, Granger said, adding that was exacerbated when the Dalys lost their home in the Camp Fire. The couple had moved to Grass Valley and were looking for a replacement home, but were under a lot of stress as the insurance money ran out, she said. According to Granger, Dennis Daly had sought treatment at a regional VA center for his PTSD just a week before the altercation with Stacey.
Ganger further argued the medical evidence did not prove Dennis cause Stacey’s death, noting her blood pressure was normal the day after the assault. Later that day, her blood pressure had spiked, but Granger told the jury Stacey was over-medicated on Coumadin, a blood thinner, which could have contributed to the second hemorrhage.
Dennis Daly’s trial continues Friday. He remained in custody Thursday on a $250,000 bond, court records state.
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4236.
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