Death penalty off the table for cold case murder of 19-year-old woman


The preliminary hearing of the man accused of murdering an 18 year old woman back in 1979, has come to end after five long days. This was the time for the prosecution to present some of their evidence to the judge in an effort to convince him they have enough to go to trial on the charges.

The judge’s decision wasn’t what either side was hoping for, but rather somewhere in the middle. Judge Brian McNamara said there’s probable cause to hold 60 year old Prentice Foreman on the murder charge, but not enough to hold up the special circumstances of rape or burglary.

Prosecutor Gina Pearl laid out the main points that she says show a much younger Prentice Foreman, raped and murdered his 18-year-old neighbor, Dawn Koons in 1979. The strongest point: his semen was found inside the victim.


Pearl pointed out that in 1979 Foreman told detectives he barely knew Koons and had never been inside her apartment. But when he was re-interviewed last December, Pearl said Foreman was smart enough to realize they found his DNA, so he then told detectives the pair had a one time sexual encounter.


But Pearl says he wasn’t smart enough to realize they could time out the DNA, and said the sex happened months before the murder. This doesn’t add up with crime labs analysis that the semen found in the victim was deposited most likely within 12 hours of the murder.

Pearl also pointed out the 18 year old was last seen Friday night-and didn’t show up to a horseback riding appointment she had with a friend the following day-suggesting she was likely already dead by Saturday morning.

This is an issue for Foreman because he told investigators in 79 that he spent the weekend with his girlfriend. His alibi cracked decades later when the former girlfriend told detectives she didn’t live in California then.

Lastly, Pearl brought up statements she says Dawn Koons made to her ex boyfriend about Foreman, saying he borderline harassed her and went into her apartment without consent.

Pearl said it was so concerning she had to tell people-at which point Prentice Foreman yelled out “not the police.”

When the defense had their turn they made a point that this is not their time to present their evidence. But Kern County Public Defender, Pam Singh, said there’s no physical evidence of rape. She alleged that if the person who killed her in such a brutal fashion also raped her-she’d assume there’d be injuries to prove it. Ultimately the judge agreed: Koons being nude, tied up, and posed in a sexual manner isn’t proof that foreman raped her.

He also said there was no evidence to support the secondary special circumstance of burglary. For now, the judge’s decision means this case is no longer eligible for the death penalty or life without parole.

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