After yesterday’s not-guilty verdicts, Bismarck Dinius and his family are understandably on Cloud Nine. "I’m fantastic, bordering on spectacular," Bismarck laughed when asked the ubiquitous post-acquittal question of "How are you feeling?"
But not all of his feelings are cheerful. There’s still the gnawing disbelief that the judicial system wrongfully targeted him in the first place, frustration that the man many feel is responsible for Lynn Thornton’s death — Russell Perdock — is not being held accountable, anger at the seemingly personal attacks from D.A. Jon E. Hopkins, and anxiety over how to pay for his defense against what a jury found to be baseless charges.
"My legal bills before the trial started were already at $33,000," he said. Three weeks of trial time, investigations, subpoenas and other expenses could push the final bill upwards of $100,000. And having been forced to resign from his job because of how much time he had to take off to defend himself, Bismarck has no way to pay for it. (To contribute to his defense fund, his Paypal ID is firstname.lastname@example.org or send a check made out to Bismarck Dinius, writing "Bismarck Dinius Defense Fund" in the memo section, and mail it to Sierra Central Credit Union, Attn: Brian Foxworthy, Branch Manager, 306 N. Sunrise Ave., Roseville, CA 95661.)
"My focus has been on the trial," he said. "I want to relish in the win for a little bit — maybe go surfing down the coast for a few days — and then I’m sure I’ll sit down with my lawyers to discuss a civil case. I don’t know if I’ll file, but I’m not ruling it out."
Someone who most assuredly is pursuing civil cases is Carol Stambuk, Lynn Thornton’s best friend and executor of her estate. "I’m so happy for Bismarck," she told us this morning, "but Perdock still needs to be held accountable." Carol says she’s "hellbent" on filing suits against Perdock, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and D.A. Hopkins. "If they think they can pat me on the head and this will go away, they made a mistake," she said. "They messed with the wrong Italian girl."
Joining Carol in her assertion that Perdock still needs to be prosecuted is Bismarck’s attorney Victor Haltom. "Lynn’s family deserve for him to get what’s coming to him," he said. But how can that happen while the D.A. appears to be protecting him so fiercely? "I believe he committed perjury," Haltom said, "not only on the stand, but also during the depositions and interrogatories for the civil litigations. Hopkins would not make the charging decision for that because those were all done in Sacramento County. The D.A. there may be a little more objective." But Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully isn’t likely to take notice of the case unless there is a huge public outcry. If you feel that her office should investigate Russell Perdock for perjury, send her an email — state the facts as you see them, calmly and clearly, and be sure to include your full name.
Haltom was very impressed by how the sailing community rallied around Bismarck, pointing out inconsistencies — such as how Perdock claimed he saw a green reflection on the hull of the sailboat when he should have seen red — and helping the legal team understand some of the details in relation to the crash. He also credits Linda Starr, Seth Gordon and Paige Kaneb from The Innocence Project as a major support system throughout the case. "I’d worked with them before," Haltom noted, "and this seemed like a good fit since Bismarck was innocent."
Haltom went on to suggest that the motion of prosecutorial misconduct he filed against Hopkins for posting an "open letter" about the case on his website during jury selection should be submitted, along with a link to the letter, to the California Bar Association for their investigation. "It’s a flat out ethical violation," he said, stopping short of saying he would file a complaint of misconduct himself. (Such a complaint must be filed by an attorney.)
In the meantime, Bismarck is reveling in the fact that he’s not going to prison. But as he pointed out, there are no real winners in this situation. "Lynn is gone. Her family has to deal with that void. I’ve lost a great deal, but that’s just money. The citizens of Lake County had their tax dollars spent on a frivolous trial. And Perdock’s got to deal with those demons for the rest of his life."