POMONA, Calif.—A man who doused the mother of his four children with gasoline and set her on fire during a domestic dispute in Pomona on Christmas Day 2015 was sentenced Nov. 30 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Clarence Durell Dear, 58, was convicted in October of first-degree murder, and jurors found true a special-circumstance allegation of murder involving the infliction of torture of Dawn Hensley.
Deputy District Attorney Phil Stirling said two of the couple’s sons—who were 12 and 19 at the time—witnessed the crime.
The 41-year-old woman was chased, doused with gasoline, and lit on fire with a cigarette lighter, then kicked while she was on the ground, Stirling said.
Dear testified in his own defense during the trial and contended that the woman informed him she had been sexually assaulting him for 24 years as he slept and that he killed her in self-defense, according to the prosecutor, who called the testimony “preposterous.”
“This was clearly a desperate effort to make up a story to avoid being convicted,” Stirling said after the verdict.
Pomona police officers responded to the 1500 block of Cordova Street on the afternoon of Dec. 25, 2015, to reports that someone had been set on fire.
“Neighbors who saw the victim run from the residence engulfed in flames rendered assistance as she collapsed on the street and remained with her until LA County fire personnel arrived,” Pomona police Sgt. Bert Sanchez said soon afterward.
Hensley died shortly after being taken to a hospital.
Dear was arrested without incident two days later after officers were tipped off that he had boarded a Metro bus in Altadena. He has remained behind bars without bail since then.