Attorney asks for lighter sentence for Scott Dyleski
By Caitilin McAdoo, Bay City News Service
September 25, 2006
MARTINEZ (BCN) - In anticipation of a sentencing hearing
scheduled for Tuesday, Scott Dyleski's attorney asked a Contra
Costa County Superior Court judge in a memo filed Thursday to
grant Dyleski the lightest possible sentence, 25 years to life
in prison with the possibility of parole.
A jury convicted Dyleski, 17, in August of the first-degree murder
of his Lafayette neighbor Pamela Vitale, 52, the wife of attorney
and legal analyst Daniel Horowitz. Jurors also found the teenager
guilty of committing a burglary while committing murder, a special
circumstance that could send Dyleski to prison for the rest of
his life without the possibility of parole.
However, because Dyleski was 16 when he bludgeoned Vitale to
death in her home on the morning of Oct. 15, the California penal
code allows the court to grant the possibility of parole.
Dyleski's attorney, Ellen Leonida, cited in her memo Dyleski's
difficult childhood, his lack of a violent or criminal past and
the fact that he was only 16 at the time of the slaying as reasons
to grant the teenager a future opportunity to apply for parole.
"A life term with the possibility of parole is not a guarantee
of future freedom," Leonida wrote. He would have to demonstrate
to a parole board that he had been reformed and deserved a second
In describing his childhood, Leonida wrote that after Dyleski's
parents separated when he was 2 years old, he and his mother moved
frequently and lived "hand-to-mouth" until they ended
up on the Curiel property, which was where they were living at
the time of the murder.
For years, as the Curiel family built their house, Dyleski and
his mother lived outdoors in a lean-to shack constructed of straw
and mud, Leonida wrote. "Scott lived without electricity,
plumbing, heat, or running water. He was only able to shower once
a week, at the homes of his mother's friends."
Leonida wrote that at one point the lean-to became so overrun
with rodents that Dyleski and his mother spent months sleeping
on friends' couches.
"The fact that Esther Fielding describes the years they
spent in a lean-to as 'fun' and 'like camping,' is a telling example
of the profound narcissism that defines the adults in Scott's
life," Leonida wrote.
While this was going on, Dyleski's father, Ken Dyleski, became
so concerned about Dyleski's welfare that he called Child Protective
Services, but he never offered his son a home, the memo states.
Child Protective Services failed to investigate the complaint.
Several witnesses testified at trial that the death of Dyleski's
sister also had a severe impact on the teenager, who dressed in
all black for the funeral and continued to wear black until his
arrest close to a year ago.
Leonida wrote that despite his upbringing, Dyleski became a bright,
talented teenager who had friends, did well in school and had
graduated early to attend college.
"The astonishment expressed by those around him upon hearing
of this crime shows that there is more to Scott Dyleski than the
worst thing he has done," Leonida wrote.
"If this court can say that any seventeen-year-old is completely
and permanently beyond redemption, that certainly can not be said
about Scott Dyleski," Leonida wrote.
After the jury's verdict was read, Vitale's family talked about
how much they missed Vitale. They also said that they way she
was killed had made her death even more difficult. Dyleski struck
Vitale at least 26 times with a rock-like object, then, as she
was dying, he cut open her stomach and carved a symbol into her
"The bottom line is he's obviously a very sick, miserable
person who took pleasure in murdering someone," Horowitz
told reporters after the verdict was read. He said that putting
Dyleski in prison wouldn't do anything to help his wife, but it
would keep a murderer off the streets.
Dyleski is scheduled to be sentenced in Judge Barbara Zuniga's
courtroom in Martinez Tuesday morning.
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