A state appeals court panel today upheld a former Cal State Northridge recruiter’s conviction for murdering his wife, who was the sister of actress Aasha Davis.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that cadaver dog evidence was improperly admitted in the trial of former Hollywood resident Lyle Stanford Herring, who was convicted in April 2013 of second-degree murder.
The body of his 44-year-old wife, Lesley, was never found.
A Los Angeles coroner’s cadaver dog — a German shepherd named Indiana Bones — alerted to an area near the back of Herring’s Mitsubishi Montero and the trunk and areas on the floor inside his Cadillac, which had both been taken to a tow yard, according to the appellate court panel’s ruling.
Prosecutors said that suggested that her body had been in each of the vehicles.
“Here, other evidence that Lesley was dead corroborated the cadaver dog evidence,” the appellate court panel found in a 30-page ruling. “Lesley was last seen alive on February 7 (2009); she had not contacted family or friends since February 7; she had not accessed her credit cards or savings account; she left her belongings behind; Herring made incriminating statements that he would go to ‘hell’ for what he did; and Herring engaged in incriminating behavior (e.g., going to Mexico, threatening suicide, and changing his hairstyle.”
The panel found that there was an “abundance” of compelling evidence that the woman was dead, despite the defense’s contention that she may have gone “underground” to leave her husband.
The appellate court justices also rejected the defense’s contention that jurors should have been instructed on the lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter.
“There is no evidence that the couple argued or that Lesley said or did something that provoked Herring. There is no evidence of Herring’s response to any provocation. That Herring killed while in a heat of passion is nothing more than speculation,” the panel found.
Davis — who has appeared on “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Friday Night Lights” — reported her sister missing after she failed to show up at work for several days. The actress made public pleas for information to find her sister, and her brother-in-law took part in a 2009 police news conference asking for help locating his wife.
In March 2009, Los Angeles police Detective Chris Gable said he would describe Herring’s “cooperation as fragmented and less than helpful — not (something) I would expect for a grieving husband.”
Herring, who was arrested in April 2010, was sentenced in June 2013 to 15 years to life in state prison, with a judge calling the evidence against him “overwhelming.”