Cold case murder trial now in the hands of the jury

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Following two weeks of testimony, the fate of a man accused of killing a woman 40 years ago is now in the hands of a Kern County jury.

Jurors began deliberating around 4 p.m. Monday in the murder trial of Prentice Foreman after a day spent listening to attorneys’ closing arguments.

Foreman, 61, is accused of killing 18-year-old Dawn Koons at her apartment in January 1979. She was found naked in a bathtub with her hands bound and a pillowcase over her head.

Koons died from asphyxiation, and a pathologist testified she could have been smothered or strangled.

Foreman was arrested in December 2017 after the Bakersfield police cold case unit got a hit on a retested semen sample from the crime scene that matched his DNA. He lived in the same apartment complex as Koons on South Real Road at the time of the killing.

During her closing argument, prosecutor Gina Pearl said the evidence overwhelmingly points to Foreman as the killer. He had previously harassed Koons, she said. He once entered her apartment without permission and demanded sex as she ordered him to leave. And after her death he lied about knowing her, Pearl said.

But, most importantly, his DNA was found in Koons’ body, and testimony indicates it was left sometime shortly before her death.

Pearl was forceful in her comments during her one-hour closing argument, stalking the area by a podium in front of the jury as she displayed photographs showing the apartment and Koons’ bruised, lifeless body.

“Just take a look at her,” Pearl told the jury. “She suffered a horrific death.”

Foreman, wearing a striped blue shirt, spent most of Pearl’s argument holding his head in his left hand. At times he looked up and glared at her, shaking his head.

His attorney, Dana Kinnison, said Pearl has made a habit of overstatement during the trial.

“Saying it doesn’t make it so,” said the soft-spoken Kinnison as he stood behind the podium during his roughly 90-minute closing argument.

Kinnison said the only thing Pearl has proven is that his client had sex with Koons and made false statements about it. The prosecution had not, he said, proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Foreman was the killer.

Other people, including Koons’ ex-boyfriend, could be the culprit, Kinnison said.

In her rebuttal, Pearl said no other explanation is reasonable other than that Foreman committed the crime. He lied multiple times over the years to distance himself from the killing, she said, but DNA testing finally caught up to him.

“He went in there and he terrorized her,” Pearl told the jury. “He raped her. And for the last 40 years he’s had a life she didn’t.”

Deliberations resume Tuesday morning. Foreman faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

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