The man accused and convicted of committing a decades-old murder was sentenced to 25 years to life Wednedsay morning.
Prentice Foreman, 61, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Dawn Koons, 18 — a 40-year-old case that was solved with new DNA technology. Koons' murder was one of Kern County's coldest cases.
During Wednesday's sentencing, Foreman remained emotionless. Superior Court Judge Brian McNamara wished Foreman luck after he issued the sentence of 25 to life.
Dana Kinnison, Foreman's attorney, argued for a probationary sentence, citing the age of the case and Foreman's "nonviolent" and "nonsexual" criminal history.
Deputy District Attorney Gina Pearl, in response, said a probationary sentence for a "brutal" and "calculated" first-degree murder would be "ridiculous" considering the circumstances.
"He harassed Ms. Koons for weeks, he entered her apartment without her permission," Pearl said of Foreman. "She was terrified of him."
Phyllis Willis, Foreman's sister, spoke to the media following the sentencing. Willis said the trial was all based on circumstancial evidence and her brother was "kind" despite previous battles with the law.
"My heart goes out to (Koons') family," Willis said. "But it's been hard on our family, too."
"We ask and hope in the future that (Foreman) can get an appeal, and that the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God, will all come out," Willis said.
Foreman has 15 prior convictions, Pearl said. In response to Willis' comments, Pearl said "sometimes circumstancial evidence speaks louder" than direct evidence.
In 1979, Foreman used a telephone cord to restrain Koons’ hands. Koons was raped. She was found dead in her bathtub, naked, with a pillowcase tied to her head with a telephone cord. Numerous bruises were imprinted into her skin, Pearl told jurors Monday during her closing arguments.
The coroner’s office confirmed Koons died of asphyxiation.
Foreman was questioned following the discovery of the body, as he lived in the same apartment complex. He claimed he didn’t know Koons well and wasn’t in the complex at the time of the killing.
Due to the limitations of DNA technology at the time, law enforcement wasn’t able to connect Foreman to Koons’ murder until the Bakersfield Police Department’s cold case unit was able to retest DNA from the case using new technology. DNA evidence surfaced from sperm collected from the victim in 2017, identifying Foreman. He was arrested in December 2017.
When Bakersfield detectives questioned Foreman again, he changed his story to say he did know Koons and had “one sexual encounter” with her weeks before her death.
Pearl said of Koons' family: "They're so happy that there is finally some closure and their sister can finally have some peace now."
The Koons' family also expressed an "immense sense of gratitude" toward the Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County District Attorney's Office for their continued dedication to cold cases and finding justice for Dawn, Pearl said.
Pearl also expressed gratitude for BPD detectives who were so dedicated throughout the past eight years as they investigated Koons' death.
"Justice has been served," Pearl said.