INDIO – An alleged prostitute, who along with her brother, is suspected in the stabbing death of a Canadian man who owned a vacation home in Indio, pleaded not guiltyThursday to murder and other felony charges.
Jackie Lynn Dunson, 32, and Robert Lee Dunson, 27, were charged Tuesday with the murder of William George Dobbs, 48, whose body was found Nov. 27, 2007, alongside Dillon Road north of Indio, said Michael Jeandron of the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
Dunson appeared in court today for her arraignment without her brother.
He is scheduled to be arraigned May 11.
The siblings are accused of putting a plastic bag over the victim’s head to get the pin number for his bank account and then killing him. They face a special circumstance allegation of committing a murder during a robbery, making them eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors will decide later whether to pursue a death sentence or life in prison.
Dobbs, of Tsawwassen, British Columbia, had recently bought a home in Indio and planned to spend part of the year in the desert. He was last seen alive leaving the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino before his body was found with stab wounds, rib fractures and a black plastic bag with tape, according to court documents.
Jackie Dunson was already in the Indio Jail in connection with a burglary in February, while Robert Dunson has been in Soledad State Prison since pleading guilty last July to receiving stolen property and violating his parole.
A break in the murder case came earlier this month, when witnesses provided new information, according to a declaration prepared by sheriff’s Detective Kenneth A. Patterson.
The witnesses told the detective they did not come forward earlier because Robert Dunson had threatened to kill them if they did so.
Investigators believe Dobbs left the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino around 3:45 a.m. Nov. 26, 2007, with the ex-boyfriend of Jackie Dunson, and that he drove to a home in Indio on Sage Street, where he was introduced to the prostitute, Patterson wrote.
The Canadian was not seen again until his body was found the next day alongside Dillon Road north of Indio.
Further investigation revealed that Dobbs’ ATM card had been used several times after he left the casino.
Surveillance videos showed that a woman had used the card three times around 4:40 a.m. on Nov. 26, according to Patterson.
Detectives contacted Jackie Dunson at her apartment, but she denied using the ATM card and said Dobbs left her apartment shortly after he arrived, according to Patterson.
During a follow-up interview, Dunson admitted she was the woman in the surveillance video, but said Dobbs had given her the card with the pin number and told her to withdraw money.
Last April, she again changed her story, saying Dobbs had made “obscene requests for paid sexual acts” while her brother was sleeping in another room, and that she asked him to leave before he paid for any “services.”
She said her brother woke up and began to beat Dobbs, but she did not know what happened after that because she left the apartment.
Interviewed in prison, Robert Dunson denied killing Dobbs, but said he would “get involved with the hustle that is run by the `girls,’ which include his sister,” Patterson wrote.
Dunson also said he would have beat up anyone who harassed his sister.
Nearly one year later, witnesses said they saw two men beating Dobbs at the apartment as Jackie Dunson stood by and watched.
“They said they could hear Robert yelling at a subject telling him that the pin number had better be the right one,” Patterson wrote. “They saw Robert dragging a white male subject by his shoulders from the living room area into the kitchen. They said the subject was bleeding from the back area and they saw Robert place a black garbage type bag over the subject’s head and tape it around his neck.”
They said Dunson later told them to keep their mouths shut.
The next day the witnesses were walking with Jackie Dunson when a patrol car drove by.
“Jackie told them she was scared because she knew the police were coming for her because Robert had killed the subject,” Patterson wrote.
After talking to the witnesses, Patterson again questioned Jackie Dunson.
“Jackie said she would finally tell the truth, stating that Robert did beat Dobbs, and he beat him because they thought he might have money,” according to Patterson.
The detective said Jackie Dunson admitted that she tried to use the ATM card several times with a man named Roger, because Dobbs had given them the wrong number initially.
“Jackie said when they returned to the apartment, Dobbs was standing inside the apartment with a black plastic bag over his head,” Patterson wrote. “Jackie said Dobbs was scared, crying.”
The detective said Jackie lifted a piece of the bag so that Dobbs could breathe and he asked her if he was going to be OK.
She said her brother and Roger carried Dobbs from the apartment, and she did not know about the murder until she saw the local news the next day, Patterson wrote.
She said she had withheld the information from the detective because “Robert is her younger brother and of course she must try and protect him.”
Investigators have not identified Roger and authorities are continuing to search for him.
Both siblings have criminal records, including guilty pleas to identity theft crimes and burglary, dating back to 2001 in Riverside County.
Jackie Dunson has pleaded guilty in seven different felony cases mostly to burglary, possession of controlled substances, forging or signing as a fictitious person and other identity theft crimes.
Robert Dunson pleaded guilty to possessing stolen property in 2008, burglary in 2006, defraud by passing a check in 2003 and importing and selling weapons in 2001.