|For Immediate Release
Case # 05CF3043
October 31, 2008
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
UNCLE SENTENCED TO 26 YEARS TO LIFE FOR STABBING AND MURDERING 11-YEAR-OLD NIECE IN LAGUNA NIGUEL HOME
SANTA ANA – An uncle was sentenced today to 26 years to life for murdering his 11-year-old niece by stabbing her 35 times in the chest after becoming angry with his sister, the victim’s mom. William Orren Dawes, 29, Laguna Niguel, was found guilty by a jury on Sept. 11, 2008, of one felony count of murder with a true finding on the sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. The defendant, who had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, was found to be legally sane by the jury following the sanity phase on Sept. 16, 2008.
In September 2005, Dawes was living with his mother and niece, Sonia Dawes, in his mother’s two-bedroom Laguna Niguel home. His mother had custody of his 11-year-old niece, who was his sister, Lorraine Dawes’, daughter. On Sept. 20, 2005, Dawes’ sister, Lorraine, unexpectedly arrived at the house. As a result, the sleeping arrangements were changed and Dawes had to give up his bedroom for the night and sleep on the couch. Lorraine and Sonia were going to share one room and Dawes’ mother took the other.
That evening, Dawes went with his sister to a nearby party. Later that night, Dawes became angry because he was unable to find his sister because she had left the party. He called her cell phone demanding to know where she had gone and then hung up on her after she said she had been at a nearby gas station.
Shortly after midnight on Sept. 21, 2005, Dawes returned to the home and went into Sonia’s bedroom carrying a 15-inch knife with a 10-inch blade. He stabbed his niece 35 times in the chest, killing her. Dawes then fled the scene.
Dawes’ mother woke up at approximately 12:30 a.m. and went to check on Sonia. She discovered her murdered granddaughter covered in blood in her bed. Dawes’ mother called 9-1-1 and Sonia was taken to Mission Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Sonia had just started 6th grade at her new school, Don Juan Avila Middle School in Aliso Viejo.
Dawes was located at approximately 3:00 a.m. in Irvine by the Irvine Police Department near Alton Parkway and Technology Drive. He was wearing a knit cap and gloves and was found in possession of the bloody knife he had used to murder Sonia.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.