Overhauled Court Procedures in Inmate Murder and Attempted Murder Cases – The Vacaville Reporter

A trial date in Solano County Superior Court is still pending for a 30-year-old man accused of attempting to kill a Solano County jail guard more than two years ago, but his date of Jury trial for killing a fellow visitor more than four years ago in Fairfield remains on track.

On the murder charge, Derek Edward Dunlap Jr., who appeared in court on May 18, will face a newly postponed pre-trial conference at 8:30 a.m. on July 22, a trial management conference at 8:30 a.m. on September 5 and a jury trial at 9 a.m. on September 6, all in Department 23 of the Fairfield Justice Center.

Dunlap, who is also charged with attempting to kill a Solano County Jail guard on Feb. 8, 2020, faces a pretrial conference and trial postponed until 8:30 a.m. on July 22 for attempted murder. Hearings will be held in Department 23, Judge John B. Ellis’ courtroom.

Fairfield criminal defense attorney Sal Giambona is representing Dunlap, who has denied all allegations in both cases. Senior Assistant District Attorney Julie Underwood is leading the prosecution.

Dunlap is charged with attempted premeditated murder of a guard officer, felony assault on a guard and resistance officer, obstruction and delay of a peace officer during an attack on February 8 at Stanton Correctional Institution on Clay Bank Road in Fairfield.

According to court records from a preliminary hearing, Dunlap had been walked out of his cell that day pretending to use the phones in the middle of the prison pod. He would have waited for the prison guard, described as “small”, to pass under the stairs separating the telephones from the cells.

Once her back was turned, Dunlap ran straight at her and grabbed her throat before she could see him coming. The accused strangled the officer from behind and attempted to suffocate him. However, another duty officer heard the commotion upstairs and came running to help her. Using a truncheon, he managed to convince Dunlap to release her.

Dunlap then proceeded to assault this officer. Other correctional officers came running to lend him a hand and managed to subdue him.

Other testimony from the hearing showed Dunlap was wearing a pair of shoes he didn’t usually wear, according to a press release issued by Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams. These shoes are usually worn when inmates intend to fight.

The defendant was also found to have a makeshift “bulletproof vest and jockstrap” covering his genitals. According to correctional officers, Abrams noted in the prepared statement, these are used when an inmate seeks protection from harm during a fight.

Dunlap was heard by a number of officers saying, “You were lucky to be there. You saved her life” and “You’re lucky you saved her this time.

Detective Christopher Cavazos investigated the case.

If convicted at trial on the charges, Dunlap could face up to 30 years to life, regardless of the murder charges.

In the murder case, Dunlap was a Fairfield passenger at the time he allegedly fatally stabbed another passenger in 2018 in Fairfield and was later confined to a public hospital for a period after legal proceedings.

At the time, Judge Robert Bowers’ decision came after a mental health placement review and show cause order.

It also came after Bowers on Jan. 14, 2020, committed Dunlap to the Department of State Hospitals for maximum life.

Court records indicate that Giambona, at some point in 2019, doubted his client’s ability to understand court proceedings and requested a report under the Mental Capacity Act.

Referred to MHM Services Inc. in Vallejo, a secure facility, Dunlap had previously undergone a mental capacity assessment. A doctor had apparently deemed him fit to stand trial, according to court records.

Court records available online indicated that Bowers certified Dunlap’s mental capacity on October 26, 2020, and on November 2, the criminal charges were reinstated.

In the murder case, Dunlap faces one count of premeditated first-degree murder, with a special allegation of torture, an enhancement that could, if convicted, result in the death penalty or a life imprisonment without the possibility of speaking. Dunlap also faces a charge of brandishing a deadly weapon in a threatening manner.

He is accused of killing 28-year-old Alexander Lind de Benicia, whose body was found on the morning of February 20, 2018 in the 1200 block of Empire Street. Police say Lind was stabbed multiple times during an argument.

According to the police, Dunlap and Lind knew each other. Dunlap was arrested without incident on February 21 after a passerby recognized him from a suspicious photograph released by the Fairfield Police Department.

Discussions at Dunlap’s first court date revealed that he had a previous conviction in Santa Cruz County.

About Jessica J. Bass

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