New info. derails fatal boat crash case

May 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The trial is set to get underway Tuesday in a fatal boat crash on Clear Lake three years ago. But, there is new information that threatens to derail the prosecution that calls into question the credibility of a key witness.

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That key witness is the number two officials in the Lake County Sheriff's office. He was off-duty, driving his power boat that night when it slammed into a sail boat killing a woman. Investigators from the District Attorney's office are looking into whether he lied under oath.

Lake County Sheriff's Captain Russell Perdock was driving his power boat more than 40 miles an hour on a dark, moonless night when it slammed into a sailboat, killing a woman. The District Attorney did not charge Perdock -- he charged the man who happened to be steering the sailboat.

Bismarck Dinius had been drinking, and the prosecutor claims the sailboat's running lights were off at the time.

But, five new witnesses are pointing the finger back at Perdock.

"He was socializing with people at the outside bar," John Yashiki-Jansen said.

Perdock has testified he spent a quiet evening at home cleaning his boat, before deciding to take it out for a ride that night. But, several people have told investigators they saw Perdock at Konocti Harbor's outside bar, in the hours before the crash.

Dan Noyes: "Was there a drink in his hand?"

Yashiki-Jansen: "Yeah, yeah, there, I mean I can't tell you what it was or how many but he was walking around with a drink in his hand like everybody else."

Yashiki-Jansen says he and Perdock left the bar at the same time, and that they raced their boats.

"We stopped because he wasn't keeping up, stopped, he cruised up next to us and was like, nice boat and asked me how fast he was going," Yashiki-Jansen said.

Investigators from the Lake County DA's office interviewed Yashiki-Jansen two weeks ago. He was able to pick Perdock out of a photo line-up, as were several other witnesses including the head of security at Konocti.

Noyes: "I have questions about what you saw."

Joe Gliebe: "I have no comment."

Gliebe declined to speak with the I-Team, but he told investigators he saw Perdock at the Konocti bar that night and he spoke with his staff about Perdock, just after the crash.

"Repeatedly, they just kept talking about this Perdock guy," Myra Martinelli said.

Martinelli also worked security at Konocti, and she recounted that conversation with Gliebe to investigators.

Martinelli: "I believe it was Joe that kind of giggled and was like, 'I hope he wasn't drinking as much or drunk when he left here.'"

Noyes: "And that means he had been drinking there at Konocti?"

Martinelli: "Yeah."

Perdock did not return the I-Team's phone calls, but in a follow-up interview with the DA's investigator, Perdock said the five new witnesses are lying about him being at Konocti Harbor.

Another Konocti employee told investigators he saw Perdock at the bar from just after 6 p.m. until 9 p.m., and that he passed on that information to sheriff's deputies the night of the crash three years ago.

That raises serious questions for ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson.

"The prosecution has to turn over what it has to the defense, if there's a violation of discovery, especially with exculpatory evidence, things that are clearly helpful to the defense, or potentially helpful to the defense, then that violation itself can cause a dismissal of the case," Johnson said.

The trial is set to begin in Tuesday morning, but the prosecution is asking the judge to postpone it while they investigate this new information further.

Bismarck Dinius' defense attorney is objecting, saying his client has been through enough.

"Bismarck works and has worked for the same company for ten years, he took a leave of absence making arrangement for this, so it would be horribly inconvenient for our witnesses and for Bismarck to reschedule this trial yet again," Victor Haltom said.

The prosecution also lost its motion for a gag order in the case. The I-Team will be there in court Tuesday to see how the case unfolds.

Related Links:
I-Team Blog: Did Lake County Sheriff's Official Lie?
DA's motion to continue trial

Have a tip on this or another investigation? E-mail the ABC7 I-Team or call 1-888-40-I-TEAM.

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