Two New York men were ordered Tuesday to stand trial on murder and conspiracy charges after Dixie Ann Dyson had told the court that they helped her plan and carry out the fatal stabbing of her common-law husband at his Huntington Harbour home 5 years ago.
Municipal Judge Michael Beecher also ordered that one of the men, George Ira Lamb, be tried for “murder for financial gain,” which means he could receive a sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted. However, Beecher dismissed the same special circumstance for Enrico Vasquez, who, if convicted, would receive 25 years to life.
Dyson was convicted of first-degree murder last year in the Nov. 18, 1984, death of Mel Dyson, who was found stabbed 27 times in the master bedroom of the condominium she shared with him part time during their on-and-off relationship. Prosecutors did not say that she stabbed her husband but told jurors that at least one other individual likely was involved.
Lamb, 27, and Vasquez, 32, were arrested in New York last fall after Dyson agreed to cooperate with authorities.
She told the court last week that she and Vasquez, her former lover, had planned her husband’s murder, and that they hired Lamb for $10,000 to do the actual killing. Lamb agreed to wait for payment, she testified, until she could collect a minimum of $100,000 in life insurance.
Dyson had told police at the time of the killing that a masked intruder had broken into the home, stabbed her husband, raped her, and then forced her to drive him to safety past security guards.
But Dyson, 45, told the court last week that what really happened was that she hid Lamb in the trunk of her car and drove him into the waterfront complex. Dyson said that Lamb waited in the garage while she had sex with her husband. After her husband was asleep, she said, she signaled Lamb to come in.
Dyson also testified that after Lamb killed her husband, she and Lamb had sex to make her rape story appear true.
Dyson and Vasquez had talked about killing her husband for nearly 2 years, she testified.
“We discussed it, but I never thought it would materialize,” Dyson said. “The whole thought grew very slowly. . . . Occasionally it was brought up, and then it became real.”
Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard F. Toohey, who prosecuted Dyson, said Tuesday that he believes she will be a credible witness. He conceded that her testimony is critical to convict the two men.
For example, after Dyson told police how the killing occurred, they dusted the trunk of her car for fingerprints and found a matching print for Lamb. But Dyson’s version is important to show that the print is connected to a crime.
In California, a special-circumstance finding by a jury means that prosecutors could seek the death penalty. However, Toohey said he would not seek a death verdict against Lamb because of his age and his lack of a police record.
Toohey added that he was not upset with Beecher’s decision to drop the special circumstance for Vasquez.
Vasquez, once Dyson’s lover, later became her close friend.
“Proving that financial gain was was Vasquez’s reason for helping Dixie could have been difficult in front of a jury,” Toohey said. “It was a sound decision by the judge.”
Dyson also had told the court that she wanted her husband dead not only for the insurance money but because she hated him for the way he treated her and her two children.
Vasquez and Lamb will be arraigned March 16 in Superior Court.
Dyson, who faces an automatic sentence of 25 years to life, is scheduled to be sentenced in July. Toohey said that her sentencing will almost certainly be postponed until she has testified at the Lamb/Vasquez trial.
While Toohey said that Dyson has been made no promises, he realizes that she hopes for a lighter sentence in exchange for her testimony.