The tragedy of cousins Lonnie Liner and Dahlia Lenaris
Mother of victim speaks
LANCASTER, Calif.—Inside a courtroom at the Michael Antonovich AV Courthouse last Thursday, 16-year-old murder suspect Lonnie Liner sat next to his public defender looking for familiar faces in the audience. They were nowhere to be found.
Liner’s family usually comes to each of his hearings, but this time it appeared as if they missed the appointment.
Liner has been charged with the murder of his 11-year-old cousin, Dahlia Lenaris and is suspected of critically wounding her 14-year-old sister on Aug. 6 in the home of his grandmother in Littlerock.
His preliminary hearing has been postponed once again to Dec. 2.
The day following his court appearance last week, someone close to the family, who preferred their identity to remain private, contacted Our Weekly. The source explained why the family was not in the courtroom.
“We were sitting outside (a different courtroom), and the public defender passed by us like she didn’t know us,” the source said. “She walked passed us two times and didn’t even acknowledge us.” The supporter of the Liner family said the public defender, Rosario Corona, has not been clearly communicating with the family since the beginning and also claims the attorney is not really on Liner’s side.
The source said Corona has not and does not plan to conduct a psychological evaluation.
According to the source, Liner had been prescribed medication, but had not taken it in a year. When questioned about the murder, the source said Liner did not recall any such events.
“This doesn’t make sense … if he was a White kid, that’d be the first thing they’d do. If she was a good public defender, that’d be the first thing she’d do,” the source said.
Liner’s childhood, according to the family ally, was not so pleasant. His mother was killed when he was only three-years-old. The teen’s mother was allegedly a crack addict, and he was born addicted to the drug. Since his mother’s death, Liner and his siblings have been in and out of the foster care system, living with different relatives.
“We asked the public defender, if she was going to (conduct) a psychological evaluation. She said, ‘What for? Insanity plea?’” the source explained. “If he is guilty, then he needs to do the time, but in the right place, where he can get help … It hurts me that there’s so many Black kids they throw out to dry.”
In an interesting turn of events, Lenaris’ biological mother, Stephanie Ellegood, came forward exclusively to OW and said she is eternally hurt by the loss of her daughter, and she is “tired” of reading that the family supports Liner. She also shared that there is a lot of confusion surrounding the death of her daughter. According to Ellegood, Lenaris was supposed to be living with her father, not her grandmother.
“Why was Dahlia living with her grandmother and not living with him? I do know when I was there at the funeral, my mom and I would ask, and we would never get a straight answer,” the grieving mother said. “I know Lonnie was supposed to be on medication and he wasn’t. I want to know what’s going on. There had to be something going on, and they don’t want anyone to know about it.”
Ellegood, was previously married to James Lenaris, the victim’s father, in Oregon. The pair conceived three girls, but later divorced when Ellegood was 21-years-old. Because she was obviously young and had never been employed, the judge granted Lenaris custody of the two eldest children and Ellegood custody of their infant daughter, at the time.
In 2003, three years after the divorce, the children’s father took off to California, and according to the mother, the judge did nothing about it.
Since the move, Ellegood had been visiting her daughters frequently. Four days before Dhalia’s murder, she was there spending time with the whole family and everything was normal.
“I met (Lonnie) the day before we came home in July, and I didn’t really know him,” she said. “Bernadette (Liner’s grandmother) said he has ADHD and that they don’t keep him on medication on weekends and summer time … We went to dinner, and he was just really funny and seemed really normal. I didn’t see it … he was really sweet, really quiet, he joked with the girls. He just seemed like a normal teenager.”
Ellegood said she never thought her children were ever in danger. When she returned home to Oregon, days later she learned of her daughter’s death, not from a phone call, but from the newspaper.
“No one even called me to notify me. I had to read it in the news. This family is so shady. They knew there was something wrong with Lonnie, and they left the girls with him anyway. The girls shouldn’t have been living with their grandma. They should have been with their dad. That’s who they were in care of,” she said in a raised voice. “The girls were supposed to be here (in Oregon), when all that stuff happened, but they begged me and they begged me, and begged me to stay there this summer, because they wanted to be in (a) play.”
According to Lenaris’ mother, the family has been hiding information from her and covering up the details about her daughter’s death and her life in California. She just wants to know the truth.
“Dahila was so happy. Dahila was beautiful, and she was so funny all the time,” Ellegood said crying. “She loved everybody. And the thought that someone she cared so much about did this to her, I can’t bear it. I know how she died and that she went through so much pain. Sometimes I think ‘what were her last thoughts.’ She was so special.”
Ellegood said although Liner is just a young boy, she hopes he gets the worst sentence possible. She said at times she is conflicted with sympathy and anger, when she thinks about Liner.
Her oldest daughter, who survived the attack and is currently still living in the Antelope Valley, recounts the tragic day’s events, but Ellegood cannot stand to listen very long. She said there was a time she blamed herself for her sister’s death.
Liner’s next court hearing is set for Dec. 2 at the Michael Antonovich AV Courthouse in Lancaster.
Lonnie Liner, the young man who stabbed to death his 11-year-old cousin and seriously injured her 14-year-old sister, Sharoya, in the high desert community of Littlerock, was sentenced Tuesday to 26 years to life in prison.
Lancaster Superior Court Judge Hayden Zacky imposed the term on Lonnie Lee Liner, who pleaded no contest March 28 to one count each of second-degree murder and attempted murder.
Dahlia Lenaris was pronounced dead the morning of Aug. 3, 2010, by paramedics sent to a home in the 10300 block of East Avenue R-14.
PALMDALE, Calif.—It has been almost a year since the lives of the Liner and Lenaris families were changed forever. It was that dreadful morning on Aug. 3, 2010, when 16-year-old Lonnie Liner allegedly stabbed his 11-year-old cousin Dahlia Lenaris to death and nearly took the life of her older sister.
Some suggest it was a mental breakdown; others say it was pure evil. The trial for the alleged teen killer has not begun, and close family relations have been reserved about sharing any information about the imprisoned Liner, now 17.
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LANCASTER, Calif.—The family of Lonnie Liner, the 17-year-old accused murderer, filed into the Michael Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse on Monday but, again, the trial has been pushed to another date, April 25.
Last summer, Liner was arrested and charged with the murder of his 11-year-old cousin Dahlia Lenaris and the attempted murder of her 14-year-old sister Sharoya in the Littlerock home of their guardian.
LANCASTER, Calif. —Last week, sources close to the family of Lonnie Liner said the young man, who is in custody for allegedly murdering his cousin, Dahlia Lenaris, does not remember committing acts that led to the death of his relative.