NewsCovering Kern County


Opening statements begin in the 40-year-old murder cold case of Dawn Koons

Posted at 7:12 PM, May 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-14 08:01:05-04

BAKERSFIELD,Calif. — On Monday, the murder trial for the oldest cold case in Kern County history began. It stems from 1979, where prosecutors say 18-year-old waitress Dawn Koons was found killed and bound in her bathtub.

Both the prosecution and the defense presented opening statements. Prentice Foreman, the man accused of killing Koons in a central Bakersfield apartment was present and at times appeared distressed. Foreman could be seen shaking his head several times as prosecutor Gina Pearle presented her opening statement in his murder trial.

This case had remained unsolved until 2017 when Foreman was arrested and charged with first degree murder after investigators say they linked DNA evidence to him.

Today in court, Foreman's defense said he did have consensual sex with Koons months before, but that does not equate to murder.

“He is trying to distance himself from the murder,” said Pearle. "You will hear that his semen with tails is found in her rape kit and it is scientifically impossible for it to have happened months before.”

For 45 minutes, Pearle established a timeline, proximity of Koons and Foreman’s apartment, and the accuracy of the DNA sample linking between Foreman to Koons.

Dana Kinnison, representing Foreman, asked the jury to focus on the context when hearing the prosecutions claim that Foreman was harassing Koons.

“The context of this is very important in your analysis,” said Kinnison. “There is only one source of all this information and that person is the ex-boyfriend, he is the only one who makes these claims that Foreman was harassing Koons.”

A video interview of Foreman was played from 2017 where police questioned and told him they have his DNA evidence inside of Koons.

Pearle says there was another change to Foreman's statement.

"It also became ‘you know what officers forget I don’t know her, or I haven't been to her apartment, we did have consensual sex one time’,” said Pearle.

A handful of witnesses took the stand throughout the day. One of them was Chance Coerner, detective for Bakersfield Police Department, who was assigned to the homicide cold case department in 2017.

Another witness was Koons' best friend Diane Deuter, who was one of the last people to see Koons.

23ABC was not allowed to film her testimony. At one point while becoming emotional Deuter says when visiting Koons, Koons would say “let's get out of here, he is giving us the creeps.”

When asked who Deuter was referring to she said she recognized Foreman as the man.

Kinnison then asked Deuter, did she ever disclose his race to anyone. Deuter responded and said she didn’t recall because she didn’t pay attention to race.

On Tuesday, three additional witnesses will take the stand. The jury will be able to view the apartment where the murder took place next week.

The trial is expected to last for the next upcoming weeks, and 23ABC will be providing up to date coverage.