After slaying, other friends had similar discussions, she says
Accused killer Scott Dyleski discussed methods of killing people, including bludgeoning someone’s head 36 or 39 times, after his Lafayette neighbor Pamela Vitale was slain, his girlfriend testified Monday in his murder trial.
Dyleski, 17, also commented on how shooting people would cause less pain than bludgeoning someone, Jena Reddy, 18, told jurors on her second day on the stand while questioned by prosecutor Harold Jewett in Contra Costa County Superior Court.
Under cross-examination by Dyleski’s attorney, however, Reddy said that everyone in her circle of friends had been speculating about who killed Vitale after her bloody, bludgeoned body was found in her home on Oct. 15. In those conversations, Reddy said, other people besides Dyleski had also talked about different ways of killing people.
Reddy added that she couldn’t be sure whether the number 36 had come up during those talks. Jewett has told jurors that Vitale was beaten 26 times in the head.
Reddy said many of Dyleski’s discussions were joking in nature, including threats of eating children who didn’t behave. He also talked about arts, economics, music, religion and politics, she said, much like other teenagers did.
“He was an interesting person to be around,” Reddy told the six-man, six-woman jury in Martinez. “He seemed a lot more intelligent than many other friends. He was someone I felt comfortable talking to.”
“So if someone asked you about Scott Dyleski, the first thing wouldn’t be sadomasochism?” asked his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Ellen Leonida, referring to Reddy’s testimony last week that she and Dyleski had engaged in that kind of activity. “No,” Reddy said.
“Or torture?” Leonida asked. “No,” Reddy replied.
Dyleski, 16 at the time of Vitale’s slaying, has pleaded not guilty to charges of special-circumstances murder and burglary. Now 17, Dyleski is being tried as an adult and could face life in prison if convicted of killing Vitale, whose body was found by her husband, attorney and legal analyst Daniel Horowitz.
In court Monday, Leonida sought to minimize the importance of testimony elicited earlier in the trial under questioning by Jewett, including assertions by witnesses that a lot of Dyleski’s artwork focused on the macabre.
“Is a lot of Scott’s art similar to Velvet Acid Christ art?” asked Leonida, referring to a goth rock band Dyleski likes. “Yes,” Reddy said.
Reddy agreed with Leonida that Dyleski may have discussed torturing children, but he had only been joking — and he had never actually eaten any children. Reddy also acknowledged that anyone who had watched the Johnny Depp movie “From Hell” would know about the film’s subject, Jack the Ripper, and the assertion that the British serial killer removed his victims’ organs.
Leonida asked whether Reddy and Dyleski had ever tortured, choked, whipped or blindfolded each other and whether they had worn leather outfits. Reddy said no to each question and said that the extent of their sadomasochistic activity was limited to scratching, biting and punching each other.
“You ever see him fly into a rage?” Leonida asked. “No,” Reddy said, describing Dyleski as “calm and collected. He didn’t lose his temper.”
David Curiel, who moved into Dyleski’s room after the slaying, testified Monday that he found a chilling to-do list in a dresser drawer previously used by the defendant. The list, written in Dyleski’s handwriting, read, ” ‘Knock out/kidnap, question, keep captive to confirm PIN, dirty work, dispose of evidence (cut up and bury),’ ” Curiel said.
Curiel, who slept on the couch of Dyleski’s home at the time of Vitale’s slaying, testified that he overheard Dyleski talking loudly to Reddy. At one point, Dyleski told her, “Once they find my DNA on her body, they’re going to come after me,” according to Curiel.
Mike Sikkema, who had also lived in the home, testified that Dyleski, usually vibrant and communicative, became a loner in the weeks before Vitale was killed. Sikkema said he wondered whether Dyleski was using drugs or was mentally ill. On the day Vitale was killed, Dyleski had “gouge marks on his cheeks and nose,” Sikkema said.
Aug. 8, 2006
Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer