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Prominent defense attorney Kevin Clymo dies at age 58

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Posted: Thursday, May 4, 2006 10:00 pm

Sacramento defense attorney Kevin Clymo, who defended local murder suspect Sarah Dutra, the Unabomber and some of the region's other most notorious criminals, died Wednesday evening following extensive back surgery, according to his brother.

Clymo, 58, represented Dutra, who was 21 when she was charged with helping dose her lawyer boss with a lethal dose of horse tranquilizer. The man, Lawrence McNabney, had been missing for five months until his body was found in February 2002, buried in a Clements vineyard.

Only then did authorities learn that McNabney's body had been stored in a refrigerator in his Woodbridge home for months and that his wife had fled to Florida. She committed suicide in jail after being arrested there. Prosecutors alleged that Dutra had helped kill McNabney on Sept. 11, 2001, at a Southern Calfornia horse show.

A San Joaquin County jury ultimately convicted Dutra of manslaughter, and she is serving an 11-year prison term.

Clymo had suffered from bone and heart problems for years, said his brother, Craig Clymo. Kevin Clymo had just successfully gone through 12 hours of surgery at Mercy General Hospital on Wednesday, but then he died about an hour later, his brother said.

Clymo, a Vietnam veteran and former truck driver, graduated from Stanford University and got his law degree from McGeorge School of Law. He began his career in Sacramento County's Public Defender's Office as a research assistant in 1977 while still in law school.

In 1989, he was assigned to defend a 60-year-old grandmotherly looking proprietor of a mid-town boarding house who was accused of poisoning her boarders to filch their government checks. Dorothea Montalvo Puente ended up with a life sentence without a chance at parole, and Clymo set out on his own in private practice.

Along with other attorneys, Clymo was involved in the defense for Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, who pleaded guilty to 16 explosions that killed three people and injured 23 others.

Clymo had recently been appointed to defend a 20-year-old man accused of shooting to death a California Highway Patrol officer near Woodland in November. The trial had been scheduled for this summer.

"He always gave you the impression that he truly believed in his client," Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Gary Ransom said.

Ransom met Clymo when they both served at the county's Public Defender's office. Ransom, who was on the bench when he heard about Clymo's death, said he had to recess briefly before he could go on.

"He was a very earnest human being," Ransom said. "He didn't pull any punches to help someone."

News-Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

First published: Friday, May 5, 2006

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