Trial in Lakeport sex offender's killing nears end

  • 12/11/2007: A1: The home of murder victim Michael Dodele, a convicted rapist, at Western Hills Resort & Trailer Park near Lakeport. Dodele lived in the park for a little over a month before he was stabbed to death at his trailer.
    PC: The trailer of murder victim Michael Dodele, a convicted rapist, at Western Hills Resort & Trailer Park near Lakeport. (The Press Democrat/ Christopher Chung)

LAKEPORT — No one's denying Ivan Oliver stabbed a Lakeport neighbor 65 times after mistaking him for a convicted pedophile. The question about to be mulled by a Lake County jury is whether it was a case of premeditated murder, self defense or something in between.

During closing arguments Friday in the Lake County Superior Court trial, Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff told jurors the death is a clear case of first-degree murder.

He said Oliver went to Michael Dodele's mobile home with a knife and the intent to kill him. Oliver stabbed Dodele "over and over and over again" with enough force to fracture several ribs and vertebrae, he said.

"There was no way that was self defense. He was like a shark on a feeding frenzy," Hinchcliff said.

He said Oliver, 34, killed Dodele, 67, in November 2007 because he hates child molesters and thought Dodele was a convicted pedophile after finding him on a Megan's Law sex registrant list. A confusing entry on the Megan's Law website was at the root of the mistake.

Dodele was convicted of raping multiple women in the 1970s and 1980s, not children. He'd served more than 20 years in prison for his crimes and had been released just a month before he was killed.

The misreading of the website led Oliver to think Dodele may have touched his 4-year-old son and to confront Dodele about the suspected incident, said defense attorney Stephen Carter. The attorney characterized Oliver as a doting, concerned father who was frantic with concern for his son's safety.

Recounting his client's trial testimony, Dodele said that when Oliver confronted Dodele, the older man became angry and tried to stab Oliver, he said.

Oliver was able to seize the knife and defend himself, Carter recounted. He said Oliver, eyes closed, "wildly" stabbed at Dodele. Oliver initially tried to cover up the crime but eventually admitted the slaying, according to court testimony.

Hinchcliff told jurors the self-defense scenario is implausible but Carter defended his client's story. He said Dodele was a dangerous man who had raped several women at knifepoint and was capable of using the weapon on another adult.

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