A retired Los Angeles Police Department homicide detective has admitted to intentionally beating his wife to death in their Ka‘u home in 2006.
In a deal with prosecutors, 59-year-old Daniel DeJarnette Jr. pleaded guilty March 15 to manslaughter while under extreme mental or emotional distress. He faces a possible 20-year prison term with the possibility of parole when he’s sentenced May 14 at 8:30 a.m. by 3rd Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra.
Police found 56-year-old Yu DeJarnette’s body on the side of an embankment near the couple’s Ocean View home on Nov. 12, 2006. An autopsy found that she died of severe head injuries. Daniel DeJarnette, who told police that his wife had apparently fallen down the embankment, was arrested Nov. 14 and booked on suspicion of murder, but was released from police custody without being charged two days later due to insufficient evidence.
DeJarnette, who moved to the Big Island after retiring from the LAPD in 2003, was indicted for second-degree murder by a Kona grand jury last May, a few months after Deputy Prosecutor Linda Walton took over the case.
“I saw DNA evidence; I saw pretty good police work. I saw motive (and) obviously, opportunity, since they were the only people living in that house,” Walton said Tuesday. “And I saw a story of his that was inconsistent with the DNA evidence.”
Walton said Yu DeJarnette had told her husband that she was leaving him, and had told others at the Kona market where she sold jewelry that she was leaving her husband. During his change-of-plea hearing, DeJarnette told the court that he hit his wife twice in the head with an automobile jack stand after she had slapped him twice.
“I think he did his best effort to cover up the crime and make it look like it happened elsewhere other than where it happened,” Walton said. “Since I took over the case in January 2012, we did get additional DNA evidence. The DNA and blood residue were in the bathroom of the house, her DNA and her blood, but it had been cleaned up with Clorox before the police got there.”
Walton said that the jack stand was recovered, as well.
“That’s consistent with the two injuries — either one of which was sufficient to cause her death — to the back of her head,” she said. “And it had both her and his DNA, as well as that of an (unidentified) contributor, as well.”
“It appeared that he had killed her in the bathroom,” Walton said.
Asked why prosecutors decided to offer DeJarnette a plea deal on a lesser charge, Walton replied: “The one family member of both the victims clearly wanted it to be settled.”
Prosecutor Mitch Roth said the homicide was solved because the case had been revisited “with a fresh set of eyes.”