Biological brothers Nicholas and Jonathan Dean were once considered very lucky. The brothers were in the foster system together as children, and both were taken in by the same foster family, who ultimately officially adopted them.
It was a rare success where biological siblings stayed together and both became permanent members of their foster family. The system seemed to have worked well. But now, both brothers are dead, declared victims of homicide. Their adoptive family is at the center of both cases. While one case is resolved, the other has been pending for nearly two years.
The 2014 murder case of Jonathan Dean finally came to a conclusion last year. Meanwhile, it’s been nearly two years since Jonathan’s severely disabled brother, Nick Dean was declared a victim of homicide, and more than a year and a half since Bakersfield Police submitted their investigation to the district attorney’s office asking for criminal charges to be filed. But prosecutors say they’re still reviewing that 2017 case.
Nick Dean’s homicide case unfolded very differently than most. The wheelchair bound 31-year-old who suffered from cerebral palsy was rushed to the hospital on March 1 where he was soon pronounced deceased. There was no crime scene investigation, no cops involved.
It took almost a month for the coroner’s office to perform an autopsy-and when it did-suddenly everything changed. A pathologist ruled the disabled man had been strangled and had a potentially lethal dose of heroin in his system as well as vicodin.
Dean’s cerebral palsy affected his motor skills and brain development. Family says Nick wouldn’t understand what heroin was, he wouldn’t know how to ask for it, and he wouldn’t have been able to inject himself with it. His legal guardian, his adoptive sister, was his caretaker and according to search warrants, administered his medications.
Police questioned the two people who cared for Dean and quickly wrapped up their homicide investigation. Detectives submitted their findings to the DA’s office in spring 2017. Prosecutors have still not filed charges. Three years before Dean’s homicide, his brother Jonathan Dean was shot to death in a murder for hire plot that prosecutors say was orchestrated by their adoptive father George Dean.
Investigators believe George Dean hired three hitmen, two of whom were teens at the time. They believe George Dean also was molesting the 16-year-old who pulled the trigger. Motive is unclear, but George Dean did have a combined $270,000 life insurance policy on 29-year-old Jonathan Dean.
In a plea bargain, George Dean pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and sex with a minor. He’s due to be released next year.
The two juvenile defendants had their cases resolved in juvenile court, and their files are sealed. The adult accused of helping the teens carry out the crime, Eric Gonzales, took a plea deal, pleading no contest to second-degree murder, with a sentence of 15 years to life.