Jury convicts Scott Dyleski of murder

Lafayette teen guilty of all charges in neighbor’s killing

(08-28) 16:42 PDT MARTINEZ — Scott Dyleski, a 17-year-old Lafayette high school student, has been convicted of premeditated first-degree murder with special circumstances and burglary in the bludgeoning death of a Lafayette neighbor, a jury decided today.

The jury found Dyleski guilty of killing Pamela Vitale, 52, in her Lafayette home.

He could face life in prison but not the death penalty because of his young age.

Vitale’s husband of 11 years, noted defense attorney and television analyst Daniel Horowitz, found her dead at their Lafayette home Oct. 15 on rural Hunsaker Canyon Road. She had been working on her computer before being struck repeatedly in the head with a piece of wooden molding and stabbed, authorities said.

The jury came to a decision today after deliberating for less than four days after a three-week trial in Superior Court in Martinez.

Authorities linked Dyleski’s DNA to DNA found on Vitale’s foot and Vitale’s DNA on a ski mask, shoes and a glove that belonged to Dyleski.

The killer, Contra Costa County prosecutor Harold Jewett said, carved a symbol resembling a double-crossed “T” into Vitale’s back while she was alive, Jewett said. Jewett also said Vitale may have become his victim because he used her address in a scheme to buy marijuana growing equipment by using stolen credit-card information.

Jewett told jurors that Dyleski bludgeoned Vitale to death, possibly after mistaking her for another neighbor who had run over his dog two weeks earlier.

Witnesses for the prosecution told jurors that Dyleski, who attended Acalanes High School in Lafayette, had a fascination with symbols and drew artwork that centered on the macabre, including images of killing and body parts.

Dyleski’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Ellen Leonida, told jurors that her client was not Vitale’s killer.

Acquaintances described Dyleski as a typical suburban kid who later began to embrace Goth culture, dying his brown hair black and wearing a trenchcoat.

Witness casts doubt on Scott Dyleski’s alleged motive

MARTINEZ (BCN) — A prosecution witness in the Scott Dyleski murder trial testified this morning that the alleged plot to buy marijuana-growing equipment, his purported motive in the killing, had been foiled the day before 52-year-old Pamela Vitale was slain in her Lafayette home.

Dyleski, 17, is accused of the special circumstances murder of his neighbor Vitale on Oct. 15, 2005. According to prosecutor Harold Jewett, Dyleski broke into the house Vitale shared with her husband, Daniel Horowitz, at 1901 Hunsaker Canyon Road and bludgeoned her to death as a part of a plot to buy lighting equipment for growing marijuana indoors using stolen credit card information.

Jackie Jahoski, owner of Specialty Lighting where Dyleski allegedly attempted to buy the lights, said Dyleski had placed four orders on Thursday, Oct. 13, using two separate credit cards. He requested that the lights be shipped by next-day air.

Jahoski said she became suspicious when the billing addresses didn’t match the shipping addresses. She said she notified Dyleski that she could only ship to the billing address, at which point Dyleski canceled his order.

She said he called back a short time later and asked for the order to be shipped to the billing address, 1901 Hunsaker Canyon Road. The name on the credit card, however, was that of a different Hunsaker Canyon Road neighbor.

Jahoski said she told Dyleski on Friday, Oct. 14 that she would not be shipping the order anywhere because the credit card company had declined the purchase.

Vitale was murdered on Saturday, Oct. 15.

Horowitz testified Tuesday that he did not know of anything that had been stolen from the house, although he admitted that he hadn’t looked at Vitale’s bank account or credit card information since her murder.

In order for Dyleski to be convicted of special circumstances murder, which carries a life sentence, the prosecution has to prove that Dyleski murdered Vitale as he was robbing or attempting to rob her.

“There’s something underlying this case that we haven’t heard yet,” attorney and legal analyst Michael Cardoza said outside the Martinez courthouse Tuesday. He said he didn’t believe that the credit card scam was the motive for the killing. “Why did he go to her house? Why did he beat her?” Cardoza said he wanted to know.