April 19, 2024
Derek E. Dunlap Jr., 31, pleaded no contest in July for the stabbing death of Alexander Lind, 28, of Benicia, and to the 2020 assault of a Solano County Jail guard, the sentences to served concurrently.

A Solano County man who in July pleaded no contest to a 2018 killing in Fairfield and felony assault of a jail guard in 2020 was sentenced on Monday to 25 years to life for the murder and three years for the assault.

Seated at the defense table in Department 23, Derek Edward Dunlap Jr. — shackled at the waist, clad in a striped jail jumpsuit, and his braided black hair falling past his ears — heard Solano County Superior Court Judge John B. Ellis say the three-year term for the assault, originally charged as an attempted murder, would be served concurrently, or folded into, the murder sentence.

The judge also order Dunlap, 31, to pay restitution and credited him with more than 1900 days, or more than five years, of custody credit in the murder case and nearly 1,200 days, or slightly more than three years, of credit for time served in the assault case.

The hearing lasted fewer than five minutes. Just before he left the courtroom, Dunlap conferred briefly with his defense attorney Sal Giambona. Chief Deputy District Attorney Paul D. Sequeira represented the Solano County’s DA’s Office during the brief morning proceeding.

Dunlap’s sentencing ended a court case that dragged on for well more than five years but essentially ended on July 7, when he pleaded no contest to the murder and assault.

Ellis immediately found Dunlap guilty of first-degree murder with premeditation and assault with a deadly weapon with possible great bodily injury for the jail attack.

Dunlap was accused of killing Alexander Lind, 28, of Benicia, whose body was found on the morning of Feb. 20, 2018, in the 1200 block of Empire Street in Fairfield. Police said Lind was stabbed several times during a dispute.

In the murder case, Dunlap had faced one count of first-degree murder with malice aforethought, with a special allegation of torture. He also faced one charge of brandishing a deadly weapon in a threatening manner. Dunlap also was the subject of an out-of-county warrant from Santa Cruz County for making a criminal threat.

In the assault case, stemming from a Feb. 8 attack at the Claybank Detention Facility in Fairfield, he faced, besides assault with a deadly weapon, an attempted murder charge; a charge of obstructing a peace officer or emergency medical technician; and assault on a custodial officer, with a Harvey waiver, the latter an agreement by a defendant that any counts dismissed as part of a plea deal can still be considered at sentencing on the remaining counts.

At one point, as the cases wound their way through the county court system, Giambona told Ellis that he harbored “a doubt” about Dunlap’s mental competency.

Ellis then ordered what’s called a “1368 doctor’s report,” or a report by a psychiatrist or psychologist to gauge Dunlap’s mental competency, then suspended further criminal proceedings in the case. The judge appointed Dr. Terralyn Renfro, a licensed clinical psychologist in Fairfield, to examine Dunlap and prepare the report.

According to official court records, Ellis, reviewing the doctor’s report, later found Dunlap competent to stand trial in the attempted murder case, with criminal proceedings reinstated.

According to court records from a preliminary hearing, Dunlap on that day was out of his cell pretending to use the phones in the middle of the jail module. He allegedly laid in wait for the jail guard, described as “petite,” to pass under the stairs that separated the phones from the cells.

Once her back was turned, Dunlap ran directly at her and grabbed her throat before she could see him coming. He placed her in a chokehold from behind and attempted to choke her. Another custodial officer heard the commotion from upstairs and came running to help her. Using a baton, he was able to get Dunlap to release her, but then began to assault the officer. Other correctional officers came running to  help and were able to subdue him.

Dunlap allegedly was heard by a number of officers to say, “You were lucky you were there. You saved her life,” and “You’re lucky you saved her this time.”

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In the 2018 murder case, he was a Fairfield transient at the time he fatally stabbed Lind and was, after legal proceedings, confined for a time to a state hospital.

Court records indicate Giambona, at one point in 2019, also had doubted his client’s ability to understand court proceedings and requested a report under the mental competency statute.

Referred to MHM Services Inc. in Vallejo, a secure facility, Dunlap earlier had faced a mental competency evaluation. A doctor had apparently deemed him competent to stand trial, according to court records. Dunlap was scheduled to face trial in late July when he entered his no-contest pleas.

Dunlap remains in Solano County Jail in Fairfield, where he awaits transfer to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.