The owner of a West Hollywood skin care business that catered to celebrities was acquitted today of soliciting the murder of a rival business owner.
The Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated about an hour before returning its verdict in the trial of Dawn Melody DaLuise, according to her attorney, Jamon Hicks. DaLuise has been behind bars since her arrest last March, but was ordered to be released from jail following the verdict.
“She was absolutely thrilled. She was crying,” the defense attorney said of his client’s response to the verdict and her imminent release from jail.
Along with the felony count of solicitation of murder, the jury acquitted DaLuise of one count of solicitation of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury.
DaLuise is a former Frederick’s of Hollywood model whose skin-care clients have included Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., Alicia Silverstone, Christina Ricci, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alyson Hannigan and Sally Struthers, according to her website.
Authorities said after DaLuise’s arrest that there was no evidence that anyone acted to carry out an attack on Gabriel Suarez, who had opened a competing skin care business, Smooth Cheeks, near her Skin Refinery salon at 8543 Santa Monica Blvd. near West Knoll.
In closing arguments Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Christine Von Helmolt said DaLuise had an “irrational hatred” of Suarez and had wrongly convinced herself that he was responsible for stalking her. Someone had also distributed sexually explicit fliers and posted ads on craigslist posing as DaLuise and soliciting men to act out a “rape fantasy.”
DaLuise’s attorney maintained that DaLuise did not do anything to solicit murder. “She was venting. She was upset. She said some things that aren’t nice,” Hicks told jurors. “She never intended for anybody to die. She did not want this man murdered … We all say things in the heat of the moment that we don’t mean, that we wish we could take back.”
The prosecution contended that DaLuise sent a text message in which she wrote that she had found someone “to take Gabriel out.” Chris Geile — who played three games for the Detroit Lions in 1987 as an offensive lineman — was mentioned by name in the text message, the prosecutor said. Geile, who testified during the trial, denied ever being asked by DaLuise to kill Suarez.