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A Fairfield man was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison today for the murder of his girlfriend in 1996. Lonnie J. Kerley, 53, was convicted of second-degree murder earlier this month in Solano County Superior Court for killing 35-year-old Danna Lori Dever. Dever’s remains were found in a shallow ditch along on Flannery Road just east of state Highway 113 on July 8, 1996, but the badly decomposed body was not identified until more than a decade later.
In August 1996, Kerley told Fairfield police that Dever had left him and their 9-year-old daughter that June and that he had not seen her since, according to the Solano County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities were finally able to identify Dever’s body through a thumbprint on May 16, 2007, and investigators determined that she had been badly beaten, sheriff’s officials said.
Kerley was named as a person of interest in the case, and his Fairfield home was searched in July 2007. The unsolved case was reopened in August 2010, and new information led to Kerley’s arrest on Oct. 29, 2010. He was indicted by a grand jury in August 2011. Kerley had been arrested in January 1996 for domestic violence against Dever. At that time, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count and was placed on 12 months’ probation.
Deputy District Attorney Krishna Abrams said Dever’s stepmother and a cousin told the court they are thankful that the jury convicted Kerley, even though it took 17 years for justice to be served. “They said Kerley had been living large since the murder and has never shown any remorse,” Abrams said.
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