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A Fairfield man faces 15 years to life in prison when he is sentenced this month for the 1996 slaying of his live-in girlfriend. After a two-month trial, a Solano County Superior Court jury convicted 53-year-old Lonnie J. Kerley Wednesday of second-degree murder for killing 35-year-old Danna Lori Dever.
In August 1996, Kerley told Fairfield police Dever left him and their 9-year-old daughter on June 14, 1996, and had not been seen since, the Solano County Sheriff’s Office said. Police opened a missing person’s case. Farm workers discovered human skeletal remains in a shallow ditch on Flannery Road just east of state Highway 113 on July 8, 1996.
The badly decomposed body was identified through a thumbprint as Dever on May 16, 2007, and investigators determined she had been badly beaten, the sheriff’s office said. Kerley was named a person of interest and his Fairfield home was searched in July 2007. Kerley was not home at the time, the sheriff’s office said. The murder remained unsolved until the case was reopened in August 2010.
New information led to Kerley’s arrest on Oct. 28, 2010, and he was indicted by a grand jury in August 2011. Kerley had been arrested in January 1996 for domestic violence against Dever. He pleaded guilty in June 1996 to a misdemeanor count and was placed on 12 months’ probation.
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