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A "Control Freak" Gets His Day in Court

It was opening day of the Dale Herring trial and the courtroom was packed. The ten-woman, two-man jury had listened attentively to prose-cutor Marianna Lebedeff's opening statement cataloging the evidence of Herring's brutal rape and near-lethal attack on Kimberly Ramming last July 5th.

Ramming, 35 years old and terminally ill, had escaped the 26-hour siege by jumping out the window of her Rohnert Park apartment and screaming to neighbors to call police.

Kim RammingThat day Kim Ramming, sorely bruised and battered, told police investigators that Herring was waiting at her apartment when she returned from running errands. He immediately verbally attacked her, accusing her of seeing another man. The prosecutor then detailed Kim's account of a beating that raged throughout the apartment as she tried to escape the blows. When she tried to call police, Herring ripped the phone from her hand, dragged her into the bedroom and threw her onto the bed.

There Herring straddled her, smothered her with a bed pillow, then put his hands around her neck and started choking her. Through it all, Kim stated, he was yelling, "I'm going to kill you! I'm going to kill you and your brother! I'm going to light your body on fire!"

Ramming, who suffered from endometriosis, a condition that made sex excruciatingly painful, said Herring also raped her, put his fingers in her anus and vagina and tried to sodomize her. Police took Herring into custody, along with his computer and a bag full of child pornography. Twenty-four hours later, Kim Ramming was dead, drowned in her bathtub with high levels of fentanyl in her system.

Inside "Dale's World"
Attorney Robert Stewart had defended Herring previously in Board of Pharmacy proceedings that had suspended his pharmacist's license for diverting narcotics for his personal use. Stewart approached the jury, a kindly look on his face, and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is essentially a love story."

Thus began Stewart's explication of Dale Herring's alternative universe - a universe in which he was the injured party, he the one physically attacked, he the victim of Ramming's lies, fraud and drug addiction. Portraying Herring as the ever-patient caretaker, instantly smitten and "spiritually connected" with Ramming and vowing to "comfort her until she dies," Stewart expressed shock that anyone could even think Herring would hurt Kim - after all, "He just loved her to death!" (We're not making this up! He actually said that in the courtroom!)

"Shrink To Fit"
But Herring's story was a little hard to sell. It called for a fentanyl-addicted Kim Ramming conniving to get extra drugs so she could kill herself. Yet the records showed it was Herring who had falsified Rite-Aid pharmacy records to double and triple the dosages of the powerful narcotic dispensed in patch form for Kim's constant pain.

According to one witness we interviewed, Kim had advised the pharmacy not to deliver prescriptions Herring was sending, reported to Kaiser Hospital that she thought he was drugging her food and, on the morning of the attack, was documenting bogus prescriptions she claimed Herring had filed in her name at other pharmacies.

And that messy report of the July attack? All made up by Kim, Herring said, to get him out of the way so she could kill herself. Never mind that Herring had just been out of town for weeks, giving her all the time in the world if suicide were her intention.

And her injuries - lacerations above one eye, inflammation of the throat, bruises and red marks on her legs and back, vaginal lacerations, swelling, and bruising, and a fresh laceration on her breast - never mind that they correlated perfectly with her description of the attack. Never mind that her DNA was found on his penis, or even that her autopsy showed fractures in the cartilage in her throat showing she was strangled almost to death.

Herring was sure he could come up with an explanation for everything, no matter how implausible. After all, Kim Ramming was dead, so who was left to refute his version?

Jurors Rule
But the jurors weren't fooled, anymore than the women with the Purple Berets who maintained a constant presence in the courtroom during the five-week trial. The physical evidence was so slam-dunk, Herring's story so fanciful, his obsessive-compulsiveness so apparent to all in the courtroom that the trash-the-victim strategy could only backfire.

After more than a week of deliberation, the hardworking jury convicted Herring on four felony counts, including forcible rape, attempted sodomy, false imprisonment and assault with intent to do great bodily injury. He could face a maximum of 22 years in prison.

It's Not Over Yet
But it may be awhile before Dale Herring goes anywhere. At the scheduled sentencing hearing on May 14th, sentencing was postponed while the court considers Herring's motion for a new trial.

Among the laughable reasons cited in the motion are:1) that the jury was prejudiced by the presence of Purple Berets in the courtroom; 2) that the prosecutor and her investigator "giggled and rolled their eyes" during Herring's testimony (a "crime" I'm not sure they committed but everyone else in the court certainly did, including the jurors); and 3) that the DA's victim advocate, Miriam Gaon, sometimes sat with Purple Berets during the trial. (And your point is???)

That hearing should be on your "don't-miss" list as Herring, the consummate control freak, has fired his lawyer and will be acting on his own behalf. It should be a hoot!

This is a guy who fed his attorney every question asked of every witness, acted as his own expert witness on pharmaceuticals, refused to answer questions he didn't like from the prosecution, and now says his attorney didn't do a good job!

As we go to print, there's no date set for the hearing on the new trial motion, and sentencing will probably be sometime in August. We'll post the dates on our website as soon as they're set.

While there's little danger Herring will win a new trial, the delay only draws out the anguish of Kim Ramming's family who have suffered enough delays and hateful attempts to taint the memory of their beloved daughter and sister.

We'll be glad when they - and we - never have to look at the creep again.

For more on the Herring trial, click here.

June 2003


© Tanya Brannan, Purple Berets
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