Saturday, January 16, 2016
Making a Murderer, Encinitas Edition: the Wrongful Conviction of Cheri Lynn Dale
The Netflix documentary Making a Murderer is generating nationwide discussion about the case of Steven Avery, convicted of murder in a troubling case involving a coerced confession from Avery's severely learning disabled nephew and clear indications of evidence tampering by police.
Encinitans may not know that one of our own sits in prison to this day, convicted of murder in a similarly deeply disturbing case. Cheri Lynn Dale was convicted in 1993 of the 1990 murder of Susan Taylor. Despite no physical evidence pointing to Dale and no suspects at the time of the murder, an ambitious Carlsbad detective built a case more than two years later based on vague, inconsistent, and contradictory statements from the hazy memories of druggies. The case has the clear appearance of police and prosecutor misconduct and ineffective defense counsel.
Susan Taylor was staying in a La Costa drug house rented by methamphetamine dealer Lisa Stanton. The house had numerous drug users coming and going all the time, including at least a few visits by Cheri Dale. The police had no leads until two years later, when Cheri's violently angry, estranged husband told a Carlsbad detective to look into Cheri as the killer.
David Scott, who knew Cheri as a teenager, has completed an unpublished book that reviews the evidence and convincingly argues that Cheri is innocent. It is a fascinating and heartbreaking read. That manuscript can be downloaded or read online here (pdf).
Cheri has been a model prisoner, but has twice been denied parole. Because she maintains her innocence, the parole system says she doesn't show "remorse."
For further reading on Cheri's case, see this March 10, 2005 San Diego Reader with a feature story beginning on page 3. And Cheri's brother Fred Caldwell has made a series of short YouTube videos on the case here.