foreman_arraignment

Prentice Foreman, 60, as seen during his arraignment on first-degree murder charges in the death of Dawn Koons. He is being held without bail.

Felix Adamo

A Kern County judge issued a temporary gag order Monday in the case of Prentice Foreman, the man arrested last month in the killing of an 18-year-old woman nearly 40 years ago.

The gag order, issued by Judge H.A. "Skip" Staley, remains in effect until Jan. 16, when a further hearing on the issue will be held. 

Staley's ruling comes just days after Foreman's attorney said a fingerprint matching a now-dead sex offender was found at the crime scene. That information had never previously been made public. 

Deputy Public Defender Paul Cadman, who spoke to The Californian on Friday, also pointed to a 2009 article in Bakersfield Magazine quoting a retired police detective who said he believed the victim, Dawn Koons, was in the witness protection program and had ties to a man from South Africa. That man, the detective said, may have been in Bakersfield the day of the killing.

The detective, Louis Bayus, died in 2011. 

Prosecutor Gina Pearl has declined comment on Cadman's claims because the case is pending.

Both attorneys told Staley Monday they will not speak to the media pending next week's ruling.  

Koons was last seen the evening of Jan. 12, 1979. Her body was found four days later at her apartment in the 2200 block of South Real Road.

Police found her naked in a bathtub, her wrists tied. A pillowcase covered her head. It was determined she had been strangled. 

Foreman, 60, told investigators in 1979 that he didn't know the victim, and would just say "hello" to her when he saw her around the apartment complex where they both lived, according to a probable cause declaration filed last month. He said he was never inside her apartment.

Semen taken from the crime scene was retested in recent years, and in October returned a hit matching Foreman's DNA profile, the declaration says. Detectives called Foreman on Dec. 15, but he refused to meet with them.

He was arrested Dec. 20 on a charge of first-degree murder with special circumstances and is being held without bail. He faces the death penalty if convicted. 

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