It was a shock for millions around the world when Tito Jackson's ex-wife Dee Dee tragically died in 1994. Decades later, her convicted killer still won't admit to the murder despite being in jail.
Over two decades since the tragic death of Delores "Dee Dee" Jackson, her convicted killer is still locked up in jail. However, even after all these years, he refuses to admit that he committed the crime.
Dee Dee was 39 years old when she met her suspected killer, Don Bohana. They were both divorcees, with the woman ending her marriage to Tito, a member of Jackson 5, and the dad of her three children, Taj, TJ, and Taryll.
BOHANA'S LIFE BEFORE JAIL
Meanwhile, Bohana lived a wealthy life, owning luxury cars, a private plane, and a boat. He was a businessman from Los Angeles, running hospitals and insurance companies.
His acquaintances included politicians and celebrities, but he would also look out for his community. He opened a Denny's restaurant franchise in Watts, the very first sit-down restaurant in the area since the 1965 riots.
THE NIGHT OF DEE DEE'S DEATH
Bohana and Dee Dee had been dating for three months before her sudden death in his Los Angeles home. On August 26, 1994, the pair finished a late dinner and started drinking together.
According to the suspect, the weather was rather hot in Los Angeles at that time. They spent their time outdoors, sitting by the pool and drinking together. He described the scene as "romantic."
Hours later, he was on the phone with 911, trying to ask for help. He shared that while the two of them were in the hot tub, Dee Dee decided to take a few laps in the pool.
He later noticed she seemed to be in trouble, so after a series of attempts, he was able to get her out of the deep end of the pool, which was 15 feet deep. Narrating the scene, he said:
"I jumped in, put my arms around her, and then flipped her out of the pool."
When emergency medical personnel arrived, Dee Dee was already unresponsive. Doctors pronounced her dead in the hospital.
THE AUTOPSY REPORT
Although Bohana continues to claim her death was an accident, her autopsy report revealed her blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit for driving. It also reported numerous scrapes and bruises on her face and body.
Ultimately, Los Angeles County coroner Dr. David Posey describes it as the result of "blunt force trauma." He added that the case was definitely "non-accidental."
DELORES COULDN'T SWIM
The Jackson family, including Dee Dee and Tito's sons, had many questions about what happened that night. They did not believe she "accidentally" drowned because she had always been scared of water and did not know how to swim.
Despite the family's accusations, Bohana continues to maintain up until today that her drowning was an accident. He went so far as to say he'd go to his grave saying "she could swim because Delores could swim."
The businessman told the media that Dee Dee was swimming comfortably in his swimming pool. In fact, she even kept a couple of swimsuits at his home.
The court case did not move for two years until the Jackson family decided to hire lawyer Brian Oxman to represent them. He waged a campaign in the media to charge Bohana for what had happened.
Oxman also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the businessman on behalf of the Jackson children. He went so far as to claim Bohana was actually bankrupt and in debt. His theory was, he turned to Dee Dee for help, and a fight followed soon after.
CONSIDERING IT A HOMICIDE
Ultimately, Lori Jones, the deputy district attorney who built the case, claimed there is no proof of the theory. Oxman went on to claim that Bohana had a history of violence against women, with police responding to at least 12 911 calls made by past girlfriends.
This was also debunked in court, as police records showed that the calls were actually noise complaints, and none were from past girlfriends who claimed he was abusive.
PLEADING NOT GUILTY
It was only in 1996 when the case was considered a homicide. In March 1997, Bohana was charged with second-degree murder, but he pleaded not guilty. Defending him was Harland Braun, a high-profile lawyer, and in his team was pathologist Dr. Michael Baden.
Dr. Baden made sure to inspect Dee Dee's bruises, and even walked the crime scene with Bohana. He had this to say about the incident:
"It was clear to me that this was a typical, innocent, accidental drowning in which two people were drinking a lot and one of them drowned."
He also acknowledged that the bruises on her face and body were likely caused by rescue attempts made by Bohana to get her out of the pool. Baden claimed she also had a diseased liver from her heavy drinking, which meant she bruised easily.
During the trial, Braun did not call any expert witnesses. Bohana testified, and unfortunately, he did not do well on the stand. In November 1998, Bohana received a conviction of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
APPEALING THE CONVICTION
Four years later, Bohana appealed the conviction on grounds that Braun provided ineffective counsel. The claim was rejected and he had been denied parole four times.
Ultimately, the suspect claims money was the reason behind Braun's sudden decision not to call Baden to the stand. He was behind in payments to Braun, and the night before the trial, the attorney reportedly threatened him, saying: "It is not wise to have an attorney starting trial angry."
THE JACKSON FAMILY'S REACTIONS
Meanwhile, the Jackson family remembers the whole situation as a nightmare. According to TJ, he already felt something was wrong, and he knew that his mother wasn't with them anymore.
Likewise, Tito called her death the "coldest day of our lives." For his sons, finding out about their mom's death was an extremely horrifying situation.
TITO AND DEE DEE
Although their marriage ended in divorce, Tito and Delores met at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. They ended up getting married right out of school.
Dee Dee was a natural with the Jackson family. She was well-loved by everyone and was treated like a sister by the famous Jackson siblings.
BOHANA'S FAMILY'S CLAIMS
It's not just the Jackson family who is vocal about the case. Bohana's own family has been rallying for his release for years. They created a website, where they detailed all their claims about how the case was handled. It read:
"Jackson family influence, an unqualified part-time coroner, a young prosecutor seeking to make her name, and corruption in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office turned the 1994 accidental drowning of “Dee Dee” Jackson into a homicide."
The website also calls Bohana an innocent man, claiming people conspired to convict him. They have been rallying for his parole and a full pardon for him.
Unfortunately, his parole has been denied four times. At each hearing, Dee Dee's children have strongly opposed his release.
However, the three grown men shared in 2017 that they will no longer be objecting to his parole. TJ spoke for his siblings during his last court hearing, saying, "If you feel it's time for him to get out, then let him out."
COPING WITH THE LOSS
Currently, the Jackson men are focusing their energy on the Dee Dee Jackson Foundation, conducting music therapy classes in the US, and remembering their mother in their own simple ways.
Although it has been decades since the loss of their mom, the Jackson children continue to learn how to cope with the loss. They're still struggling with how to deal with it, and it's something they work on daily.