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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A skin-care specialist to the stars was acquitted Thursday of charges that she plotted to murder a rival beautician she mistakenly blamed for stalking her.
Dawn Melody DaLuise, 56, was cleared in Los Angeles County Superior Court after about an hour of deliberations by jurors in the bizarre case that included allegations that a former NFL lineman was hired to knock off the competitor.
"Obviously, we're ecstatic about getting not guilty on both counts," defense lawyer Jamon Hicks said. "We're just hoping to help her rebuild her reputation, rebuild her business and rebuild her life."
Hicks said the former Frederick's of Hollywood model was merely venting when she said she hated rival Gabriel Suarez, the owner of Smooth Cheeks salon, and found someone to take him out. No action was ever taken to kill Suarez.
DaLuise wrongly believed Suarez was behind a campaign that included posting lewd flyers of her face photo-edited on pornography, emails and Craigslist ads with her home address seeking men to act out a "rape fantasy."
Authorities later arrested her friend, Edward Feinstein, on suspicion of stalking and said he had goaded her into the murder-for-hire plot. Feinstein has not been charged in the case. Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the district attorney, said that investigation continues.
Prosecutors said DaLuise became obsessed with Suarez, who had recently opened his business on the same West Hollywood block as her Skin Refinery, which counted Alicia Silverstone, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Christina Ricci among its clientele.
At some point, DaLuise confided in Chris Geile, who played three games for the Detroit Lions in 1987, about her suspicions that Suarez was behind the stalking. She sent text messages to friends saying Geile was going to "take Gabriel out."
Geile testified that he was only a shoulder to cry on for DaLuise and was never asked to kill anyone.
DaLuise lost her business after being jailed in March on charges of solicitation of murder and solicitation of assault likely to produce great bodily injury, Hicks said.
Getting back to work will be her second priority after reuniting with her two daughters once she's released from custody, which was expected later Thursday.
Hicks said DaLuise grabbed his leg as the first verdict was read. Fearing the jury would convict her on the second, lesser count, he cautioned her to wait before celebrating.
"When you heard the second 'not guilty,' you could hear her gasp and say, "Thank you, thank you, thank you," he said.
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