|Bill Dobbs was brutally tortured & murdered in California in 2007.|
William Dobbs murder: Three convicted in California of killing Tsawwassen businessman: A California jury has convicted three people of murder in connection with the 2007 slaying of Tsawwassen businessman William Dobbs. Jackie Lynn Dunson, 35, Fernando Antonio Benavidez and Ronald Wesley Handwerk were tried in Riverside Superior Court. The jury reportedly took about 90 minutes to decide on the verdict. The three are expected to be sentenced on June 22. Robert Lee Dunson, 30, and Rogelio Leon Zuniga still face murder charges in the case. Their next court appearance is scheduled for May 25. “Yes, we did get some justice here,” Toni Dawson, Dobbs’ longtime partner, said in a telephone interview Monday from Indio. “I’m still on Cloud 9 with the news.”
Dawson sat through the 10-day trial, listening to the events that led up to Dobbs’s death on Nov. 27, 2007. The couple were vacationing at a home they owned in Indio and planned to head back to Canada in a couple of days. Dobbs told Dawson he was going to the casino for the evening. It was at the Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella that Dobbs met Benavidez. He took Dobbs to Jackie Dunson’s apartment around 4 a.m., where Dobbs was reportedly expecting to pay for sex. At the apartment Robert Dunson, Jackie’s brother, and Handwerk allegedly beat Dobbs severely — his ribs were broken, internal organs were ruptured and his face was unrecognizable — for his debit card and PIN. A plastic bag was placed on Dobbs’s head.
Witnesses said Dobbs was pleading for his life. “It was awful. He was tortured very, very badly,” Dawson said. “They were using him like a pinata. They did all sorts of horrible things to him.” Jackie Dunson and Handwerk drove Dobbs’s vehicle to a bank to withdraw cash. The transaction was caught on surveillance video. The card was used a number of other times. It is alleged that Robert Dunson and Zuniga put Dobbs into the back of his own SUV and drove him to a remote area of Indio. Dobbs’s neck was slashed 14 times, almost decapitating him. Dobbs’s body was found by the side of the road the next day. His SUV was found abandoned a week later a block from Jackie Dunson’s home. There were traces of blood inside.
“What they did to Billy is just so sick and wrong every way you look at it,” Dawson said. “This is just horrific torture.” Dawson said she had to leave the courtroom a number of times during the trial — in particular to avoid seeing the autopsy photos. “I was told not to look at the autopsy pictures, not to remember him like that,” she said.
When asked about the circumstances that led to Dobbs being in Jackie Dunson’s apartment, Dawson said the idea that Dobbs was buying sex “is just a bunch of crap.” She said Dobbs had likely been drinking and was very trusting. “That’s kind of irrelevant to me how he got there,” she added. The deputy district attorney is planning to seek the death penalty for Robert Dunson, if he is convicted, Dawson said. Life without parole will likely be sought for the other defendants. “I can’t even say what an excellent job he did,” Dawson said of Deputy District Attorney Christopher Ross. “After it’s said and done they’ve just been exceptional. I couldn’t have had a better team on down here.”
In Vancouver, Dobbs ran a window cleaning and janitorial service called Excelsior Buildings Maintenance, which had been in the family since 1910. “Everybody loved Billy,” Dawson said. “When this happened, it affected so many people’s lives.” Dawson and Dobbs met when they were five years old and dated in high school. They reunited about 12 years before Dobbs died and were inseparable. She described him as easygoing and happy. Dawson said Dobbs always had a smile on his face. “He was very, very likable,” she said. “Billy was so loved that I know people would want to know there was some justice.”