Wife of a convicted child molester investigated for helping husband evade arrest.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Local prosecutors have been investigating Renee Daly, wife of convicted child molester James Daly, in an effort to uncover the extent of her role in aiding her fugitive husband since his sudden flight last April.
Stephanie Hulsey, the Deputy District Attorney who is prosecuting James Daly, declined to comment about whether or when Renee Daly would be charged with any crime. However, documents obtained by the Weekly show that Melanie Rogers, lead investigator for the District Attorney’s office, believes that Renee Daly aided her husband in fleeing the country and evading arrest, actions which could make her an accessory to a felony.
Daly, who was arrested in May 2004, skipped his sentencing hearing on April 12, 2005. He had been tried on charges of aggravated assault, kidnapping and forcible rape of a preteen girl.
He was subsequently convicted in absentia on 10 counts of molesting a family member between the ages of 5 and 12. His conviction was based, in part, on police recordings of Daly’s phone conversations with the victim, in which he said that she had been his “love object.”
He faces a maximum sentence of 58 years in prison.
In an application for a search warrant filed last April by the DA’s office, Rogers states: “I have reason to believe and do believe that [Renee Daly] has aided James E. Daly’s ability to flee and evade arrest…” The document also stated that Rogers believed Renee Daly would continue to aid her husband with the proceeds from the sale of their Carmel Valley home.
At press time, Renee Daly’s attorney, Michael Stamp, was not available for comment.
Prosecutors also believe that a cryptic statement, buried in a letter from Daly to his wife while he was on the lam in Ireland, may be a coded reference to a bank account from which he wanted to get money while on the run.
Although Hulsey declined to comment for this story, she excerpted this and other details from personal letters from James Daly to his wife in a motion dated Sept. 30, 2005.
The US-born Daly, who was traveling under an Irish passport and whose parents live in Ireland, later fled Ireland and was arrested in Uruguay on Oct. 1, 2005.
Included in the search warrant’s Statement of Probable Cause, Rogers outlines the DA’s case against Renee Daly—including a power of attorney transfer from Daly to his wife on the Carmel Valley property, made after hours at a local title company on April 4, 2005, less than a week before Daly fled justice.
In the statement, Rogers paints a portrait of a “dutiful and faithful” wife who supported Daly throughout the course of the trial and even appeared on the nationally-syndicated news program On The Record after her husband fled, telling host Greta Van Sustern that Daly didn’t get a fair trial.
The search warrant’s Statement of Probable Cause is intended to persuade a judge that there is reason to believe that illegal activity is occurring. Judge Russell D. Scott accepted Rogers’ argument and issued the search warrant on April 22.
The District Attorney’s Office then froze an escrow account worth $116,000 and controlled by Renee Daly, apparently to ensure the money couldn’t be used to facilitate her husband’s flight.
Renee Daly, who sold the couple’s house on Schulte Road in Carmel Valley for $2.2 million, has since relocated to Washington state. She had used the property to post a $500,000 bond to secure James Daly’s freedom during his prosecution. After he fled, prosecutors froze that escrow account.
After deducting the $500,000 bond and paying commissions, legal fees and other costs, $116,000 remained. According to Hulsey, the District Attorney’s Office placed the money in an interest-bearing account and refused to release it. Judge Robert Moody of Monterey County Superior Court ruled that the funds would stay frozen until Daly was transferred to US authorities.
Meanwhile, as district attorneys in Salinas slog through the long process of extraditing the 64-year-old doctor from Uruguay, details about his life on the lam in Ireland are revealed in letters sent to his wife.
Prosecutors received three letters, the first dated April 28 and the second two dated May 4. Assistant DA Stephanie Hulsey says Renee Daly never actually saw the letters; a friend who was collecting her mail found the letters and turned them over to the authorities.
The contents of the letters give an intriguing glimpse into Daly’s life as a wanted international fugitive, describing his daily activities and observations.
In one of the May 4 letters, Daly tells his wife how he walked into town to shop at a farmers market, then went to a pub where he ordered coffee and watched the local people. He mentions that children are allowed into the pub, cared for by adults, and calls Ireland a very family-focused society.
He then tells her about going back to where he was staying and accidentally locking himself in the laundry room. The manager of the apartments where he was staying called her husband, who happened to be an Irish policeman, who released Daly from the room.
“What a trip that was,” Daly writes.
He then adds the sentence, “May Dow always shine on us.”
The odd reference apparently cast further suspicion on Renee Daly’s role in aiding her fugitive husband—despite the fact that she never received the correspondence.
Credit card receipts obtained by District Attorney Investigator Martin Sanchez on April 12 showed that Daly arrived at Dublin Airport two days after he fled his trial in California. He stayed at a Dublin hotel and hired a car to drive across the country. Martinez also discovered that most of these credit cards had been charged up to the maximum allowable amount. Meanwhile, the District Attorney’s Office in Salinas entreated Ireland’s Department of Justice to move on an extradition request and arrest him.
Hulsey says the extradition request created friction between the DA’s Office and Ireland’s Department of Justice. At one point, Hulsey and the DA’s Office accused the Irish authorities of ignoring the case, which was on the US Ambassador’s list of priority cases in Ireland.
In sharp contrast, Hulsey says that the authorities in Uruguay arrested Daly immediately upon a US request last fall. Daly was arrested on Oct. 1 while trying to re-enter Uruguay from Argentina. According to his passport, Daly had also traveled to Brazil.
Daly, who worked at Salinas Valley State Prison, was using an Irish passport and had $20,000 on him when he was arrested, prosecutors said.