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,"
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
His sister, Marisa Vitale, described the pain Dyleski had caused
Both Marisa and Mario Vitale described their mother as kind and
"The great irony is that the very person you destroyed would
have gone out of her way to help you," Marisa Vitale told
She asked Dyleski to tell her and her family why he killed Pamela
"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
"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
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.
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