A felon who told police that he was upset that his girlfriend had had an affair while he was in prison was ordered today to stand trial on a charge that he murdered her near Lake Merritt in Oakland last summer. Dominic Daniel, 27, admitted to police that he beat and killed 33-year-old Tsega Tesfoy Tsegay on July 31, 2012, according to testimony in a two-day preliminary hearing that concluded today with Alameda County Superior Court Judge Joan Cartwright ruling that prosecutors produced enough evidence to have him face a jury. Oakland police Officer Eric Molina testified on Wednesday that in an interview with police Daniel said the night before Tsegay was killed she told him “she had a relationship with a married man while he was incarcerated.” Molina said he learned while investigating Tsegay’s death that a week before she was killed a judge had put Daniel on probation for a false imprisonment violence conviction for a prior incident in which she had been the victim.
Daniel also has two other prior felony convictions, one for driving a stolen car and one for being an accessory after the fact to a crime. Tsegay, who lived with Daniel at her father’s apartment at 1445 Harrison St. near Lake Merritt, was found suffering from major head trauma in the 1500 block of Lakeside Drive, next to the lake, at about 6:10 a.m. on July 31, 2012. She was later pronounced dead at Highland Hospital in Oakland. Tsegay died from multiple blunt force injuries, prosecutor Barbara Foo said. Molina testified that another officer who had seen Tsegay after she was discovered told him that her face was swollen, her eyes were swollen shut and she had abrasions to her body, torso and arms. Molina said when he interviewed Daniel he said he’d been in a relationship with Tsegay for four years and referred to her as his wife. The officer testified that Tsegay’s father had kicked them out of his apartment the night before her death after she argued with her father. Daniel said he was with Tsegay but they were separated for about 40 minutes and he eventually heard her “screaming for help” in Lake Merritt near the Lake Chalet restaurant, Molina said.
Daniel said he dove into the lake and picked her up, tried some type of first aid, covered her with his jacket and asked a jogger to call 911, which brought paramedics to the scene, Molina said. But Molina said when he confronted Daniel with evidence that indicated that he had beaten Tsegay “he changed his story” and admitted “everything you’re saying is true — I beat her.” The officer said Daniel told police, “I done killed my wife” and repeated words to that effect about ten times. However, Daniel said Tsegay had “punched him first,” Molina testified.
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