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Dyleski gets life wthout parole

Murder motive remains a mystery

By Caitilin McAdoo, Bay City News Service

September 26, 2006

MARTINEZ (BCN) - Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Barbara Zuniga told convicted murderer Scott Dyleski today that he does not deserve to live among decent people and sentenced the 17-year-old to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Dyleski was 16 when bludgeoned his Lafayette neighbor, 52-year-old Pamela Vitale, to death on Oct. 15. The teenager was tried as an adult and convicted in August of first degree murder. Jurors also found true the special circumstances that Dyleski murdered Pamela Vitale while committing a burglary, a charge that gave the court the option to sentence the teenager to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Dyleski's attorney Ellen Leonida asked the court to consider Dyleski's age, his lack of a criminal or violent past and his difficult childhood as mitigating circumstances and grant him the possibility of parole after he serves 25 years in state prison.

Prosecutor Harold Jewett argued that Dyleski had already been given leniency for his age when state law barred the prosecution from seeking the death penalty.

Vitale's family members gave emotional statements describing the impact her murder had on their family. Both of her parents, her sister, her husband and her two children told the court that Dyleski had showed no humanity toward Vitale while he was beating her to death and did not deserve the possibility of parole.

Vitale's husband, defense attorney and legal analyst Daniel Horowitz, said that in his 25 years working as an attorney he has "never seen anyone ask for mercy at a sentencing with such a complete lack of remorse."

Horowitz discovered his wife's lifeless body near the doorway of the couple's home.

"Never before have I seen anyone take so much pleasure in killing someone," Horowitz said. He described the scene as "almost a party of blood."

He said that it had been horrible to listen to "foolish teachers" describe Dyleski's good character during the trial and to watch his wife's killer flirt with his defense attorney during the preliminary hearing.

Horowitz said that he knew his wife screamed as she was being murdered. He said she probably cried, she probably asked for mercy, but Dyleski kept on hitting her. He struck her at least 26 times in the head with a rock-like object, causing extensive bleeding in her brain. During the attack, he broke her nose, her fingers, knocked out some of her teeth, and bruised or cut almost every part of her body.

"He beat her again and again and he took pleasure in it," Horowitz said.

Vitale's son Mario Vitale talked about how Horowitz had called him on Oct. 15 to tell him that his mother had been murdered. He then called his sister and told her what had happened. As the two siblings were trying to get to their mother's home in Lafayette, Dyleski was at his friend's house making jokes about the most painful way to kill a person, Mario Vitale said.

"You and I are a lot alike," Mario Vitale told Scott Dyleski. He said they both grew up as children of single mothers and that they listened to some of the same music, but "now you're nothing but a murderer with no one to blame but yourself."

Mario Vitale said that Dyleski should have sought leniency before the trial when he had a chance to take responsibility for what he did and plead guilty. He took a gamble and he lost, Mario Vitale said.

His sister, Marisa Vitale, described the pain Dyleski had caused her family.

Both Marisa and Mario Vitale described their mother as kind and empathetic.

"The great irony is that the very person you destroyed would have gone out of her way to help you," Marisa Vitale told Dyleski.

She asked Dyleski to tell her and her family why he killed Pamela Vitale.

"I beg of you to explain to us why," she said. She asked him to tell them what happened on the morning of the murder and what her mother said before she died. "Please give us that peace of mind," Marisa Vitale said.

Dyleski, however, never testified in his own defense nor did he make any statement during the sentencing hearing today, and his motive for the killing remains a mystery.

Prosecutor Harold Jewett said that Dyleski's motive was hatred and mistaken identity. He said Dyleski thought that a different neighbor lived at 1901 Hunsaker Canyon Road where he murdered Vitale. That neighbor had injured Dyleski's dog when she struck it with her car and foiled his plan to buy marijuana-growing equipment using stolen credit card information.

Vitale's father, Verne Ludke called his daughter's murder vicious. Her mother, Carol Ludke, said that a picture reel of her daughter's death played constantly in her head.

All of Vitale's family members talked about what a warm, loving, intelligent and talented person she had been.

Vitale's sister, Tamara Hill, said she believed that Dyleski had felt excitement and exhilaration during the killing. She also said she believes Dyleski is obsessed with murder and would kill again if given the chance.

She described Dyleski as a "cruel, vicious, calculating psychopath who no longer deserves to be called a human."

Zuniga said that newspaper reports, witnesses and the victim's family members had all mentioned that Dyleski didn't show any emotion or any remorse for what he had done.

However, she said she had seen something that she didn't think anyone else had seen.

She told Dyleski that the one time she saw him show any emotion was when forensic pathologist Brian Peterson was showing the autopsy photos to the court.

"I saw you, sir, lean forward and your mouth fell open," Zuniga said. She said that his mouth remained open the entire time the autopsy photos were being projected onto a screen in the courtroom.

"You were absolutely fascinated by your handiwork," Zuniga told Dyleski. "Sir, you do not deserve to live life among decent people and your commitment is for life."

Zuniga also said that she could see that people were struggling to make sense of the killing.

"They don't want to understand and accept that someone who looks like you and who lives next door could be so evil," Zuniga said. She said she heard people blame his mother, his father, the circumstances of his childhood, but, she said, people have free will and they make choices.

"This was a very deliberate, planned murder," Zuniga said. She described how as Vitale was dying at Dyleski's feet, he proceeded to stab her in the abdomen and then to carve a symbol into her back "because you were proud of your work," Zuniga told Dyleski.

Several people spoke on Dyleski's behalf. Lyn Dyleski, a former stepmother, blamed Dyleski's father, Kenneth Dyleski, for his son's actions and said that the murder had been hard on her, too.

Horowitz left the courtroom when Lyn Dyleski described Dyleski's politeness, his "selfless" concern for his mother and his ability to rise above difficult situations.

She said Dyleski had maintained a positive attitude during the trial and he had been writing "funny, well-spoken and poetic" letters to her from juvenile hall.

She said that she believes Dyleski has the potential to become a leader and deserved the possibility of parole.

"I don't think we want to risk having the entire world lose him now," she said.

A man who knew Dyleski when the convicted murderer was an 11-year-old Boy Scout said that it didn't make sense that the brutal crime was committed by the boy he knew.

And a friend of Dyleski's from middle school said Dyleski had always been kind to her and that he cared deeply about animal rights.

Dyleski's mother and father were both in the courtroom today, but neither spoke on their son's behalf.

Dyleski was handcuffed at the end of the hearing and escorted out of the courtroom.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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