Pomona man charged with burning to death the mother of his children on Christmas Day

A Pomona man was charged with murder Tuesday after prosecutors said he burned to death the mother of his children on Christmas Day.

Clarence Duwell Dear, 51, could face the death penalty if convicted in the torture and murder of 41-year-old Dawn Hensley, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

Dear and Hensley were involved in an argument that turned physical at about 1:45 p.m. at their Cordona Street home, Pomona police said.

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Dear chased Hensley outside, doused her in gasoline and then set her on fire, possibly with a lighted cigarette, investigators said. Prosecutors would not say exactly how Dear set the woman aflame.

Hensley was seen running from the home while on fire and collapsed in the street, where neighbors tried to help her. She was pronounced dead at an area hospital a short time later.

Dear was arrested without incident on Sunday, after he was spotted boarding a bus in Altadena.

He was charged with murder with a special circumstance of torture, making him eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors have not said if they will seek to have Dear executed.

Dear was also charged with one count of cruelty to a child, in connection with endangering the health of his 12-year-old son, according to court records. Prosecutors do not believe Dear was attempting to harm the child, but the cruelty charge stems from the danger created by the fire, according to Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

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Dear was scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday, but his arraignment was delayed until Jan. 28. He is being held without bail, Robison said. 

Times staff writer Joseph Serna contributed to this report.

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for breaking news.


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4:03 p.m.: This story was updated with additional information about the charges against Dear and changes to his scheduled court appearance.

This story first published at 11:18 a.m.

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