Neighbors testify about hearing husband’s screams |

Neighbors testify about hearing husband’s screams

Kim Curtis

MARTINEZ (AP) – A neighbor of defense lawyer Daniel Horowitz on Monday described what sounded like the cries of a wounded animal the night he arrived home and found his wife’s bloody body inside the door of their Lafayette mobile home.

Julie Partridge, who said she lives closest to where Horowitz and his wife, Pamela Vitale, were building their dream home, called it a jarring and upsetting noise.

“He was just screaming his wife’s name, ‘Pamela! Oh no! Oh my God,”‘ Partridge told jurors during the first day of testimony in the murder trial of Scott Dyleski, 17, who is charged as an adult in the beating death of Vitale, 52.

As about a dozen police cars climbed the winding, rural Hunsaker Canyon Road on Oct. 15 and a fire engine turned around because it wasn’t needed, Partridge realized it was worse than first feared.

“I figured if they weren’t going up to provide aid … then she must be dead,” Partridge said.

One of the first officers at the scene, Deputy Enrique Henriquez, told the six-man, six-woman Contra Costa County Superior Court jury that when he arrived, Horowitz was talking on a cell phone and acting “very emotional.”

“He was yelling that he didn’t know what happened to his wife,” Henriquez testified.

The high-profile defense lawyer and television commentator dropped his briefcase and two bags of groceries outside when he found Vitale’s body in a fetal position inside the front door, according to testimony and crime scene photos.

Dyleski, who was 16 at the time, was arrested four days later. He lived down the road from the hilltop plot where the couple was building a home while temporarily living in the cluttered mobile home.

Henriquez said he saw gashes on Vitale’s head and a “great amount of blood on the carpet, on the walls, on the front door.”

Criminologist Alex Taflya testified it took three days to collect evidence from the scene.

Photos shown to jurors over the objections of the defense showed Vitale wearing only underwear and a T-shirt, her head bashed and bloody, her arms and legs covered with what Taflya called defensive wounds.

They also saw the inside of the front door covered with bloody hand and footprints, as well as a bloody water bottle, bowl and broken coffee cup left in the kitchen.

Preliminary testimony and police documents indicated Dyleski and a friend had bought marijuana-growing equipment using credit card information stolen from neighbors, including Horowitz and Vitale.

One purchase was to be shipped to Horowitz and Vitale’s address and Dyleski told his partner he would take care of it.

Dyleski’s lawyer, Ellen Leonida, said last week in her opening statement that Dyleski may have had a fascination with the macabre but he was a kind and conscientious person incapable of murder.

Leonida said her client was at home when Vitale was killed and said DNA found inside a glove involved in the attack did not match Dyleski’s.

Horowitz was expected to testify Tuesday.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.