Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp formally charged a suspect Wednesday in the Debbie Dorian cold case homicide.
Nickey Duane Stane, 52, faces murder and rape charges for the Aug. 22, 1996 killing of the 22-year-old Dorian. She was found bound in duct tape in her apartment near Fresno State.
“As a mother, I cannot fathom the pain this family has endured over the years, waiting for this day to come,” Smittcamp said.
Smittcamp says Stane could face the death penalty. She announced the charges at a news conference at her office in downtown Fresno. It was attended by many in law enforcement, as well as Dorian’s family.
Visalia police arrested Stane on Oct. 3, 2019, for a number of sex crime charges that allegedly occurred from 1999-2002. Neither Smittcamp nor Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward revealed exactly how Stane’s DNA was collected to match him with the Dorian case and the Tulare County crimes.
“We now know that the identity and location of that perpetrator were hiding in plain sight in our city all along,” Ward said.
Tulare, Fresno Cases to Be Tried Together
Stane faces three charges for the murder of Dorian: first-degree murder while committing forcible rape or sodomy, forcible rape with great bodily injury, and sodomy by use of force with great bodily injury.
The murder charge is eligible for the death penalty. Smittcamp said she would evaluate whether to pursue a capital case after the preliminary hearing.
Charges relating to the Tulare County sex crimes will be consolidated with the Dorian case and heard in Fresno. Ward agreed to relinquish jurisdiction to Fresno County, in the name of expedited justice.
“Justice should not be delayed for any of the victims connected to this individual,” Ward said.
New DNA Technology Links Stane
New DNA technology was cited several times as the reason why this case moved forward.
DNA samples from Dorian’s killing matched samples from the Tulare County crimes. Stane was not linked at the time to either case.
This breakthrough happened at the same time as the arrest of the Golden State killer in 2018. At a news conference last fall, Smittcamp and then-Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said the DNA technology — “genetic genealogy” — used to identify Stane was the same that Sacramento authorities used to arrest Joseph DeAngelo, the alleged “Golden State Killer,” in April 2018.
The prosecutor in that case helped investigators in the Dorian case with utilizing the technology.
Stane remains in a Tulare County jail.