Oakland ex-felon convicted of second-degree murder in girlfriend’s brutal death

OAKLAND (BCN) — An ex-felon has been convicted of second-degree murder for brutally beating his girlfriend to death near Lake Merritt in Oakland three years ago.

Prosecutor Laura Passaglia told jurors in her closing argument on Monday that 29-year-old Dominic Daniel knew exactly what he was doing when he killed 33-year-old Tsega Tesfoy Tsegay on July 31, 2012, even though he had been drinking at the time.

Passaglia said Daniel’s blood-alcohol content was 0.14 percent when he was tested several hours after Tsegay was found suffering from major head trauma in the 1500 block of Lakeside Drive, near the Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill at about 6:10 a.m. on July 31, 2012, shortly before she was
pronounced dead at Highland Hospital.

She said Daniel’s blood alcohol content may have been as high as 0.20 percent when he attacked Tsegay but witnesses said he didn’t appear to
be under the influence of alcohol because he didn’t smell of alcohol and didn’t stumble.

Tsegay, on the other hand, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.38 and was too drunk to defend herself and probably couldn’t even stand up straight,
Passaglia said.

The prosecutor, who sought a first-degree murder conviction for Daniel, said the fatal beating was the culmination of four years abuse that
Tsegay had suffered at the hands of Daniel.

But Daniel’s attorney, Ted Johnson, said Daniel should only be convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter because he had an honest if unreasonable belief that he was in danger and needed to use deadly force against Tsegay.

Johnson said he believes Tsegay struck Daniel first and Daniel wasn’t thinking clearly when he reacted because he was intoxicated. Johnson also alleged that there was another side to Tsegay when she got drunk.

Tsegay lived with Daniel at her father’s apartment at 1445 Harrison St. near Lake Merritt. Tsegay’s father testified that he had kicked Daniel and Tsegay out of his apartment the night before her death after an argument.

Tsegay died from multiple blunt force injuries to her body as well as significant internal injuries, Passaglia said, including hemorrhaging in her neck consistent with strangulation.

Johnson said the fatal confrontation occurred after Tsegay disclosed to Daniel that she had been unfaithful to him while he was in jail on afalse imprisonment conviction for a prior incident in which she had been the victim.

But Passaglia said there’s no evidence that Daniel acted in the heat of passion and was so upset about Tsegay’s revelation that he lost control of himself.

Jurors reached their verdict against Daniel earlier this week. He faces a term of 15 years to life in state prison when he’s sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon on June 26.

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