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Dinius Trial Date Closing In

Regular ‘Lectronic and Latitude 38 readers know that we’ve steadfastly supported Bismarck Dinius in his fight against vehicular manslaughter charges stemming from the 2006 death of Lynn Thornton. On April 29 of that year, Dinius had sailed in the Konocti Cup on Clear Lake aboard a Catalina 22. After the race, Dinius ran into Mark Weber, who asked if he’d like to go out for a quick sail on his O’Day 27 Beats Workin’ II. What better way to end a day of sailing than to go sailing?

As we all know, that short sail turned tragic when Lake County Chief Deputy Russell Perdock apparently decided that a nighttime speed run in his 385-hp, 24-ft powerboat was a prudent and seamanlike thing to do. Dinius happened to have his hand on the tiller as the O’Day drifted along in the evening zephyrs, barely making way, when Perdock ran up on the starboard aft quarter at an estimated — Perdock’s estimation, in fact — 40 mph. Lynn Thornton, Weber’s fiancée, was fatally injured and died a short time later.

To add insult to the concussion, two broken ribs, broken hand and various other injuries Dinius sustained in the crash, the Lake County District Attorney filed manslaughter charges against him instead of the person many believe is the only responsible party: Russell Perdock. Now we can’t say with certainty that the Lake County DA is using Dinius as a scapegoat to protect one of their own, but something sure smells.

There are too many twists and turns in this story to fit them all into one ‘Lectronic posting — such as why it took an hour for a deputy to transport Perdock and his blood sample to a substation that is a two-minute drive from the hospital, or why Perdock denies that the deputy did the transporting, or why that deputy was ordered not to give Perdock a Breathalyzer test at the scene — but Dinius’ lawyer, Victor Haltom, has detailed them all in a letter to Attorney General Jerry Brown, asking his office to once again review the case in light of new evidence and testimony. Included are letters from Lynn Thornton’s closest relatives, including her son, asking that all charges against Dinius be dropped and new charges be filed against Perdock.

Unfortunately, the deadline for dismissal is quickly approaching, as the trial is set to start on May 19. We’re hoping our readers are still sufficiently outraged to once again contact California Attorney General Jerry Brown’s office to ask them to re-review the case and dismiss all charges relating to Thornton’s death. Send an email through his website at, where you’ll find a form. Snail mail, which is often more persuasive, should be sent to Public Inquiry Unit, Office of the Attorney General, Box 944255, Sacramento, CA 94244-2550. Letters can also be sent to District 1 Assemblywoman Patty Berg at State Capitol, P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0001 or online at

As for Dinius, he’s hanging in there. In a phone conversation Wednesday evening, he sounded upbeat and hopeful, but still anxious. "I have a fantastic life and I’m trying not to worry about things that are out of my control," he said. "But my bank account is wiped out and the meter’s still running. And with the trial coming up, I’m worried about losing my job because of all the time I’ll have to take off." Bismarck Dinius is an independent guy who likes to take care of himself and his family so he’s uncomfortable asking for help. That being the case, we’ll do it for him. If you feel an injustice is being done, consider contributing to his defense fund by sending checks made out to Bismarck Dinius, with “Bismarck Dinius Defense Fund” in the memo section, to Sierra Central Credit Union, Attn: Brian Foxworthy, Branch Manager, 306 N. Sunrise Ave., Roseville, CA 95661.


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