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Scott Dyleski is a young man unjustly imprisoned in California for the murder of Pamela Vitale. Pamela Vitale was brutally murdered in her home in Lafayette, California on October 15, 2005. Scott was 16 at the time and lived in a planned community about a mile away in the same Hunsaker Canyon area of Lafayette.

Scott was sentenced to Life Without Parole in September of 2006. He was transferred to San Quentin Prison on his 18th birthday, becoming the youngest inmate in the California prison system at that time. Scott was later moved to Kern Valley State Prison.

Scott was convicted based on very flimsy evidence and lack of an adequate defense. He was assigned a relatively inexperienced Public Defender with limited resources who had to go up against an aggressive, experienced prosecutor with virtually unlimited resources in a case that received prejudicial coverage. However, his defense attorney did not even take advantage of the resources at her disposal nor question and follow-up testimony where she could have. At the least, both Scott Dyleski and Pamela Vitale deserve the justice of an intense investigation and a fair trial.


About Scott's trial, from Teen Advocates USA

Watch the public defender's closing argument which raises troubling questions about the reliability of the state's evidence including DNA samples so insufficient they could not be submitted to the FBI's CODIS program for comparison, forensic evidence collected from the crime scene and elsewhere that was never tested and a time of death that relied upon the opinion of a computer forensics expert instead of medical science.

Even though the prosecution claimed Vitale was found less than eight hours after her murder, there was no Time of Death (TOD) estimated by the coroner. The DNA referred to in the Teen Advocates article was a miniscule sample (less than one cell in size). Additionally, this is the only DNA claimed to be directly connected to the crime scene - the ONLY DNA. How is that possible? The current petition for writ of habeas corpus thoroughly refutes the validity of the DNA evidence on a number of grounds.


Scott Dyleski was actually home at the time period the prosecution claims the murder occurred. Two household members testified to this early on, Fred and Kim Curiel, saying Scott arrived home at 9:26 and 9:30 respectively. Their testimony was changed to over an hour later and literally months after they were first interviewed and after the Preliminary Hearing.

The prosecution claimed that somehow Scott committed this crime in 33 minutes or less - that is given that Pamela Vitale was attacked at almost exactly the time her computer ceased being active (10:12 am) with at least 6 different kinds of weapons constituting at least 10 different objects; two flashlights (one was large and heavy) a vase, at least three pieces of crown molding, a long cy
lindrical metal post/metal banister railing cast (we assume this means a metal mold for an cast porch baluster), a knife (or knives - not found), and some unknown objects causing blunt trauma (the prosecution claimed this was fist sized rocks and that those rocks dealt the death blows - not found). 

Dog scent evidence, that was excluded by Dyleski's attorney, could have also been used to show the killer or killers tracked around the Mansion under construction, out a cattle and pedestrian gate by the Mansion, and towards Wheeler's/Lynch's residence at 1571 Hunsaker Canyon Rd and one tracked to the house near Wheeler's presumably still occupied by Fred Blodgett (whose name does not appear in any testimony  - picture of house and description of property for sale by Daniel Horowitz).

Further, the prosecution claimed that Dyleski also picked up and stacked boxes (as well as evidence of rummaging through them), moved the television set in front of the bedroom door without getting blood on it then neatly placed her glasses on top (they were bloody, but not damaged), went into the kitchen where he supposedly drank from a water bottle and handled at least two cups and a bowl, went into the bathroom and cleaned up possibly taking a shower, got out of the trailer which was a veritable blood bath leaving only a partial footprint on top of the plastic storage container lid, hiked 10-15 minutes to a van on the Curiel property somehow disposing of at least two kinds of murder weapons (a knife and fist sized rocks) and a glove along the way (the murder weapons nor the second glove were ever found), changing clothes and even putting on lace up boots, stashing some of the so-called murder scene clothes (that also did not seem to be covered in blood), and then walking to his house where upon arrival he did not seem to be out of breath, sweating, dirty, or upset/excited.

Although an enhanced charge based on burglary was placed on Dyleski, two purses of Vitale's were untouched, unopened and possibly not even taken into evidence.

In testimony, Daniel Horowitz claims he never even looked at Pamela's bank accounts.

Many papers and such at the scene were not treated as important evidence because they did not have blood on them even though boxes had been rifled through, opened, and some restacked. There was no public testimony concerning the contents of many of these boxes.

There are further problems with the prosecution's timeline and ridiculously setting the TOD based on computer activity as even the prosecutor's defense expert who examined Vitale's computer said the clock on the computer could not be verified. It appears actual use by Vitale the morning of the murder was not thoroughly verified through the websites she is said to have visited (checking with site owners against her IP address visiting those sites). There was actually no evidence presented that verified it was even Vitale on that computer (using that computer hard drive). The evidence shows that Daniel Horowitz logged out of his computer after Pamela Vitale logged into hers.

Excluded Evidence

Dog Scent

Scott Dyleski's attorney, Ellen Leonida, requested that all of the dog scent evidence be excluded. Her request was granted. However, the initial evidence is very compelling and very strong in favor of Scott - several different dogs (including at least one cadaver dog) did not track to Scott's home or even up the trail or road any significant distance. They do, however, track several different times to Gerald Wheeler's house (4.04 acres of Horowitz owned property, purchased from Joseph Lynch, that adjoins his 13 acres at 1901 Hunsaker Canyon). That's where the trail seems to end.

The dogs also tracked near the Mansion under construction that is going away from any path toward Scott's house. The dogs also tracked to an abandoned trailer (South of the Mansion) and a second cabin on the 4 acres that had been rented out to a man named Fred Blodgett. Several people were living on that adjoining 4 acre plot. It could also be argued that this evidence shows Vitale’s killer could not have met the strict timeline.

911 Call

Daniel Horowitz walked into the house after finding Vitale dead and used the home phone to dial 911. He did not talk to the operator, but instead threw the phone down, leaving the line open. The 911 call Horowitz placed at approximately 6 pm the night of the murder was excluded also. Scott's lawyer claimed it was prejudicial to Scott. The public has never heard it. However, it appears that at least 13 minutes of that call was recorded and, in addition to his verbal noises, he can be heard moving around in the house, toward and away from the phone. This could have significant connections to any crime scene changes that occurred before LE arrived or other claims that Mr. Horowitz made. He did knowingly or unknowing tamper with and taint the crime scene. Daniel Horowitz proceeded at some point to use his cell phone to call a law enforcement number that he knew and report Vitale's murder. Horowitz was placed in the back of a squad car at some point after law enforcement arrived and was allowed to keep his cell phone - unmonitored and unsupervised

Forensics and Evidence

No expert
forensic witnesses were called for the defense and many of the tests were merely presumptive tests for blood, even though in testimony Hal Jewett has to be reprimanded several times for calling these 'tests for blood' instead of 'presumptive tests for blood.' Presumptive tests only show the possibility that blood is there, they do not show that blood is there. There was NO confirmatory blood testing conducted on any of the evidence.  Here is an explanation of some presumptive blood tests.

Luminol and phenolphthalein are imprecise and indiscriminate presumptive “screening” tests conducted to detect the possible presence of blood. The tests are so non-specific and non-selective that they can produce a positive reaction to an iron or copper bearing substance, a cleaning agent, vegetable matter, even pollen, horseradish, urine and fecal matter, and they cannot distinguish between animal and human blood. Consequently, if a positive presumptive result is obtained a scientifically precise test must be conducted to confirm if the substance is human blood, one of the other many common substances that can cause a positive luminol and phenolphthalein result, or if the test returned a false positive.

The following is an example to illustrate the relationship and difference between a presumptive screening test and a precise confirmatory test. Imagine that a photograph taken at a particular location on a particular day shows a person at a distance that to an observer looks like it possibly could be Joe. That is the equivalent of a presumptive test. To determine if the person in the photo is Joe the observer has the picture enlarged to show facial details, which unmistakably reveals the person is not Joe. That is the equivalent of a negative confirmatory test.  (Justice Denied)

There was third party DNA evidence found in several places including, but not limited to, blonde hair on Vitale's back, the shoes, the glove, and hair in the ski mask. Blood on various items in the kitchen did not match Dyleski. There was blood in the bathroom shower and Daniel Horowitz claimed the killer had taken a shower, yet the drains were not examined to investigate any possible DNA evidence there as far as we know - that evidence was not presented in court.

It was claimed that there was a partial shoe print inside the house on a plastic box lid within a few feet of Pamela Vitale's body (which was lying in a pool of blood radiating out 6 feet), yet no other shoe prints were found on the interior floors even though the murderer was in the living room, kitchen, and bathroom. How did the killer make it through all this blood and only leave one very partial print on a moveable object?

The shoes claimed to have been worn during the murder (not the lace up boots that Dyleski was wearing when he arrived home) had been previously stored on a porch outdoors, they were in a duffel bag and in the possession of Scott Dyleski's girlfriend for many days (starting after Vitale's murder and before Scott was arrested) then Scott's belongings were handed over to Scott's mother who was staying at her sister's house. Scott's mother left that house, leaving Scott's belonging there in storage and not in her possession. She later went back and picked up his belonging then handed them over to a PI for the defense who handed them over to the prosecutor where they were then supposedly laid out on a table with other evidence and subsequently taken into custody by LE investigators. These shoes were on the porch, outside in a pile up until the Sunday after the murder. They were also the only pair of men's shoes in the pile. It appears Scott had not worn those shoes for a while and wore his Moo shoes when going to the Renaissance Faire with Jena Reddy the day after Vitale was murdered.
The shoes also had third party DNA on them. The chain of custody was never established in another point also, that is when the private investigator picked up the shoes from Esther Fielding. This would have been the responsibility of Scott's attorney. That PI, John Beauden, was never asked to testify in the trial.

Shoe Print Evidence and Analysis

The ski mask was also stored outdoors in a shed, meaning it was available for anyone to take. It was a ski mask that Scott wore when he went skiing with his father. The ski mask also contained third party DNA. Notable is that the prosecution claimed a gouge on Dyleski’s nose occurred during the murder of Vitale, but Scott’s blood was not found in the nose area.

Scott Dyleski's DNA was NOT found in the glove said to have been used during the murder. Had Dyleski even worn this glove, his DNA would probably have been evident. While kids in the Curiel household did play dress-up, they did not have many girly type clothes in that mix. There was third party male DNA found in the glove. There were only female children in the Curiel household who would have used the costume items so if they had played with the glove, there would have been female DNA in the glove. It appears no attempts were made to identify the male DNA found in the glove.

Most astounding is that there are chain of custody issues in this case with one of the most serious being all the evidence taken from the van on the Curiel property. This evidence was found, mishandled (no gloves were used), and handed over by Rick Kovar, a citizen deputy of the Contra Costa Sheriff's Department (they call them Reserve Deputy Sheriffs - qualifications).  (see article)
A low level lab tech processed the van.  It is said that this Deputy went beyond his perimeter, but he also was not permitted by law to search. So is it a coincidence that he happens to be the one who found this evidence and, hence, a search warrant wasn't an issue? Was the search warrant even valid for the van?

At least one of the forensics experts who examined and tested evidence was repeatedly told they could not conduct advanced testing on the evidence.

Hal Jewett, the DA “presented a picture of the suspect being covered up at the scene by a long trench coat, a ski mask, and gloves (ref).” However, nothing linked the crime to the trench coat and the glove was not linked to Dyleski. One has to wonder if Judge Barbara Zuniga followed the evidence presented at trial because she still had Dyleski wearing the trench coat to commit the murder at sentencing. Zuniga also claimed at sentencing she knew he was guilty by the look on his face during certain evidence presentation,  "You leaned forward and your mouth fell open. ... You were absolutely fascinated by your handiwork". How interesting and unethical for a judge to claim she knew a defendant was guilty when she saw a reaction on his face during the trial.

Skelton Hearing 10.19.2005 (.pdf)

Motions or Requests Denied

Change of Venue

Kelly Hearing on Y-STR DNA

Motion Hearing Admiss. of DNA Evid. (6.19.2005) (.pdf)
People's Reply Motion For Kelly Hearing 7.6.2006 (.pdf)
People's Response to Motion 7.19.2006 (.pdf)
Y-STR Tests/Analysis by Gary Harmor SERI (2009 Resume)

Media Requests

Contra Costa Times Order On Media Request 10.24.2005
CNN Order On Media Request 10.24.2005 (.pdf)
CNN Order On Media Request 10.26.2005 (.pdf)

Requests to Lift Gag Order (News Org & Alred)

Motions or Requests Granted

Gag Order (Prosecution & Defense)

People's Request for Gag Order 10.27.2005 (.pdf)
Notice of Motion for Gag Order McKenna 10.27.2005 (.pdf)
Judge Flynn Ruling on Gag Order 10.27.2005 (.pdf)
SF Chronicle, et al. Opposition To Motion 10.27.2005 (.pdf)
Application to Include Gloria Alred (.pdf)
Amended Protective Order 10.28.2005 (.pdf)
Jewett Support Modification Include Alred 10.28.2005 (.pdf)
(claims 'dark aspect' of relationship that is now public info)
Opposition to Gag Order on Alred 10.28.2005 (.pdf)
Fed Authorities in Support of SF Chronicle  11.8.2005 (.pdf)
Alred Response 11.16.2005 (.pdf)
SF Chronicle's on Vacating Gag Order 11.16.2005 (.pdf)
People's Request for Gag Order 11.16.2005 (.pdf)
People's Reponse to Clarification Request 12.8.2005 (.pdf)

Exclude Dog Scent Evidence
(Leonida - .pdf)

Exclude 911 Call (Leonida)

Suppress DNA from Wheeler and Lynch (Leonida)

Juror Misconduct

There were 2-3 incidents with Peter DeCristofaro who is a native of Queens, NY who lived in Concord, CA. He was referred to in court records as juror number 7 and the only juror to interview after the trial (interview with Nancy Grace).

Note: if Daniel Horowitz would have been treated as a suspect by the defense to develop reasonable doubt, Nancy Grace would have been called as a witness  herself as she is the last person who claimed to talk to Vitale other than Horowitz.

Evidence not Tested or Introduced

* Third Party DNA Evidence - this is a fairly long list; blood evidence not tested, fingerprints (van, notes, crime scene, other?), fabric evidence in the trailer, hair evidence (mask, hair band, shower drain, towel, bath mat, Vitale's back) and other third party DNA that was not analyzed or at least that testing was not introduced in court by either side or was not compared to other possible suspects. In testimony, the only DNA sample compared against known criminals was the sample from Vitale foot. It was too small to enter into the database.

* Daniel Horowitz 911 Call - a recording of him moving in and out of the crime scene lasting at least 12-13 minutes. Horowitz did not respond to the 911 operator on this call, but threw the phone down and called a direct police number about 10 minutes later - he is alone at the crime scene for about 30 minutes after he says he found Vitale's body. First responding officers were delayed from entering the property because of the locked entrance gate.

*All Dog Scent Evidence - including multiple trackings by different dogs to and around the Mansion, out a pedestrian gate and a cattle gate, to Wheeler's house, and following a recently left foot trail from the trailer. Dogs also tracked to an abandoned trailer and to a second house on Horowitz's four acre plot across from Wheeler's. A cadaver dog also alerted to the bathroom at Wheeler's house where a picture of Vitale was found in the sink. There was also a pair of jeans soaking in a bucket at Wheeler's. Daniel Horowitz testifies the only thing he thinks is missing from the crime scene is a pair of jeans.

If you are poor and even if you can afford to pay your own lawyer, there is no way there is enough money to hire the private investigators, pay for independent forensic evidence testing, and hire experts to testify. The system is inequitable as the Prosecution has far more resources at their disposal. Particularly troubling is that a Public Defender typically also does not have as many resources as the Prosecution so there is no option except to raise funds for an adequate defense.

Inadequate Defense + Lack of Money = Injustice

Scott Dyleski

"The reality is that we provide criminal defense for poor people that is vastly inferior to what rich people can afford"

Quote from Norman Leestein in California Lawyer, May 2010. MR Public Defender: California's Only Elected PD is not afraid to speak his mind about oppressive caseloads. 


Curiel v. The County of Contra Costa


KIMBERLY MARIE CURIEL; FREDERICK MICHAEL CURIEL; M.T. C., A MINOR, By And Through Her Guardian Ad Litem Kimberly Marie Curiel; T.A.C, A MINOR, By And Through Her Guardian Ad Litem Kimberly Marie Curiel; J.M.C., A MINOR, By And Through Her Guardian Ad Litem Kimberly Marie Curiel; HAZEL ANNE McCLURE, MICHAEL JASON SIKKEMA, D.A.M.S, A MINOR, By And Through His Guardian Ad Litem Hazel Anne McClure; C.R.M.S., A MINOR, By And Through Her Guardian Ad Litem Hazel Anne McClure


THE COUNTY OF CONTRA COSTA, CALIFORNIA; SHERIFF WARREN RUPF, sued in his individual capacity and as an employee of Contra Costa County; LIEUTENANT KATHLEEN PARKER, sued in her individual capacity and as an employee of Contra Costa County; CONTRA COSTA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT SERGEANTS JAMES MAHONEY and KEVIN DALEY, sued in their individual capacities and as employees of Contra Costa County; CONTRA COSTA COUNTY SHERIFF�S DEPARTMENT DETECTIVES JASON BARNES, GARY CLARK, CARY GOLBERG, JOSEPH MOORE, GUY UYEDA, AARON VAN ZELF, LAURIE BAILEY, TODD SANTIAGO, MARTIN RYAN, ROQUE BARRIENTOS, ADALBERTO GARIBAY, RACHELLE FAWELL and RUDOLPH OEST, sued in their individual capacities and as employees of Contra Costa County; CONTRA COSTA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES OSCAR ARANDA AND DALE HADLEY, sued in their individual capacities and as employees of Contra Costa County; AND DOES ONE though ONE HUNDRED, et al.,

Judge Alsup's Decision 08/13/07
Order Requesting Supplemental Briefing 
Defendants' Motion For Summary Judgment 7-28-2007
Plantiffs' Opposition to Summary Judgment 8-2-07

Appeal Case Number: 07-17233
Hearing Date: 07-15-09

Recording of Hearing: 07-17233.wma
(link to entire document -  .pdf file, online)

On review of the hearing tape, and in the document linked, a number of lies and inaccuracies were presented as related to Scott Dyleski's case. These include ....

"Because some of the equipment ordered had been scheduled to ship to Vitale’s address, Curiel was concerned Dyleski and Croen might be involved in Vitale’s death (CYNTHIA HOLCOMB HALL, WILLIAM A. FLETCHER and RICHARD A. PAEZ., Pg."

This is a lie. No equipment was ever scheduled to be shipped to Vitale's address.

No dog scent evidence was introduced at Scott Dyleski's trial, yet it is used by the court to say the perpetrator left on foot. The dogs never tracked to the Curiel household from the crime scene and they did not track in the direction of the Curiel household, they tracked on a path away from the Horowitz/Vitale trailer to an arroyo/thick bush (that was possibly not searched thoroughly for a murder weapon) to Jerrry Wheeler's house where a pair of jeans were soaking in a bucket w/ OxyClean and outside of the bathroom (where the killer might have cleaned-up) and where a picture containing Vitale was found lying in the sink. All of this evidence was discounted in court because Scott's attorney asked that evidence be excluded.

From Scott Dyleski's Trial
Motion to Exclude Scent Dogs (ref)
Skelton Hearing (ref)

"Appellants are members of two families present when fourteen deputies from the County of Contra Costa entered and searched their house for murder suspect, Scott Dyleski. Appellants sued for Fourth Amendment violations stemming from the deputies’ warrantless, unannounced entry into their home, the The district court granted the County and Sheriff’s Department employees’ (collectively “Appellees”) motion for summary judgment, finding that, because no constitutional violations occurred, Appellees were entitled to federal immunity and the County could not be liable under Monell. That lack of constitutional violations also led the district court to grant summary judgment as to Appellants’ state law claims. Appellants challenge the decision, and this court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We affirm in part and reverse and remand in part."

.... For these reasons, we AFFIRM the district court’s grant of summary judgment as to the claims stemming from the warrantless, unannounced entry, the detention, and the questioning of Curiel and McClure. We REVERSE the district court’s decision to grant summary judgment as to the excessive force claim. Because we have held that a jury could find constitutional violations, we also REVERSE the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the County on the issue of municipal liability for those violations, and REVERSE the grant of summary judgment as to Appellants’ state law claims for assault, battery, violation of California Civil Code § 52.1, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, to the extent the last claim was based on the entry or force used. Each party is to bear its own costs ."

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artwork entitled, "Earth LIfe Sun", in the background is by Jean-Francois Colonna, Ecole Polytechnique, France