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Father seeks truth about daughter's murder

Detectives say slain woman's husband remains only person of interest in 2007 murder case

Posted: September 20, 2009 10:13 p.m.
Updated: September 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
The last thing Junior Taylor wants to believe is that nearly two and a half years ago, his daughter was beaten to death by her husband in their suburban Castaic home.

"I still hope that he would be innocent," Taylor said Friday. "I just hate to think he would do that."

But following a string of events that seemed to confirm his fears, he retained an attorney and filed a wrongful-death lawsuit last spring against David Clary, the husband of his late daughter, LaWana Clary.

Attorney Roy Comer said Friday it could be a year before the case goes to trial.

"There was just absolutely nowhere else to look," Taylor said during a phone interview from his Midwestern home Friday. "In our hearts and in our minds ... there was no one left but David."

It was late afternoon on April 5, 2007, when LaWana Clary, 50, was found dead in the bedroom of her Shadow Place home by her husband David Clary, according to sheriff's reports. The Coroner's Office concluded she died of massive head injuries.

The two had been married about 15 years.

David Clary remains the sole person of interest, the two detectives investigating the case said last week.

"The investigation is ongoing and Mr. Clary has not been cleared yet," sheriff's Detective Richard Lopez said.

In the past two years, David Clary has moved to the Fresno area, Lopez said.

"He ‘lawyered up' almost immediately," he said. "He doesn't even talk to us.

"It's not like he's coming forward and saying: ‘Clear me.'"

Clary refused to take a lie-detector test administered by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Lopez said. He said the polygraph expert hired by Clary's attorney performed and documented the test improperly.

Lopez and his partner, Detective Robert Martindale, were reluctant to discuss details about the case, including any possible motives and whether or not a murder weapon was ever recovered.

Taylor had an attorney file the wrongful-death suit in Chatsworth Superior Court.

He described his son-in-law as "a guy that you couldn't get to know very well at all."

Taylor speaks in soft, measured tones with a bit of a drawl. Since the murder of his only daughter, he said his faith in God has sustained him.

"This is not the way that life is supposed to end," he said. "You're not supposed to outlive your kids."

David Clary did not kill his wife, his attorney Richard Moss said.

"It's almost a knee-jerk reaction that the husband always did it," he said Friday. "There is no evidence to prove that he directly or indirectly had anything to do with the murder of his wife."

Moss said Clary has retained his services since shortly after LaWana Clary's murder.

"There was some other suspect," he said, and pointed to an acquaintance of the Clary's foster daughter.

"(Detectives) didn't even bother following up," he said.

Lopez said they did talk with the young woman "about her past associations."

That foster daughter is a witness Comer said he wants to find. While he has had phone conversations with her, he has no idea of the whereabouts of the young woman, who he estimated is in her early 20s.

A wrongful-death suit is not the only courtroom drama Clary faces.

On Sept. 28 a judge is set to rule on a lawsuit involving LaWana Clary's $300,000 life insurance policy.

David Clary has sued Prudential for failing to pay out on the policy.

At the pending hearing, Comer said, the judge will decide whether to stay the trial until the wrongful death suit goes forward, or allow it to proceed, so a judge can decide whether Clary or Taylor should receive the money.

While investigations proceed and the wheels of the judicial system grind on, Junior holds on to hope.

"I do think the answer will come out one of these days," he said. "We haven't conjured this story up just to raise a stink.

"Somewhere, somehow, somebody has heard something and it would just be enough to tip the scale."

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