Both his family and the victim's family attended the hearing for 22-year-old Dexter Oliver. When he entered the courtroom, his hands cuffed behind his back, it was a heartbreaking scene for his great grandmother, Nora Ceaser. "I never thought I would have to face anything like this and if anyone had told me this, I would not have believed it myself," she said. Ceaser raised Oliver in her San Francisco home and calls him a good kid with a bit of a temper.
San Francisco investigators say it goes way beyond that. According to police, last Sunday, Oliver argued with his girlfriend at a neighborhood laundry mat then left, came back with gasoline, and set her on fire. Lamare, 25 and a mother of three, was burned beyond recognition and remains in intensive care.
"He did tell me, 'Grandmother, I didn't do that.' He said, 'I did not set her afire,'" Ceaser recalled. However, authorities say he did and that it's not the 22-year-old man's first case of domestic violence. In court Thursday, the prosecutor cited three other incidents on two women dating back to 2008. The judge called the allegations very serious and agreed to a $10 million bail.
The victim's family attended Thursday's hearing but left without comment. On Wednesday, Lamare's mother, Anita Parker, said she had hoped to confront her daughter's former boyfriend face-to-face. "I want to say to him, why he put me through this, why he put her through this, her kids through this," she said.
The family attended a vigil Wednesday night sponsored by anti-domestic violence advocates. District Attorney George Gascon says the cycle of abuse must end. "Often, I and many people in the office, as well as many of the advocates, we go around talking about domestic violence and occasionally there are people that would sort of downplay what we're doing. Somehow, this is a political ploy or that we're trying to get attention. This case very clearly illustrates that this is a very real problem," he said.
Prosecutors asked that the bail be set so high because they believe Oliver is a danger to public safety, a flight risk, and because it took multiple law enforcement agencies including the U.S. Marshals to find him in Oakland and bring him in.