She was 50 years old when she died at home in Buffalo, New York, on June 18, 2014, from ca*ncer. She spent 13 years in prison for k*illing her daughter, which she did not do. It was the end of a short and unhappy life. Even a $2.7 million settlement for wrongful conviction wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough and it was too late.
Her journey began the night before Valentine’s Day 1993, when she and Dennis Donohue, who was her boyfriend at the time, got into a fight at a wedding.
Donohue and DeJac still fought as they left. They went to her house, where her 13-year-old daughter Crystallynn Girard and 8-year-old son Edward were sleeping.
When things got physical, DeJac called the police to help her get rid of a “unwanted visitor.” But there was no one at the house when the police arrived.
DeJac went back to bingeing and followed Donohue from bar to bar. She ended up at the Babcock Grill, which is where her mother drinks, and began talking to another man named Michael Nichter.
When Donohue got mad, he started wrestling. The fight in the bar turned into a crazy car chase.
Nichter picked up DeJac at 5 a.m. and told him to stay in the living room while she checked on her kids who were still sleeping.
He saw her close the door to Crystallynn’s room and put the family dog and a phone inside. After that, she asked Nichter to take her back to his house.
People called the police to her house at 2:30 p.m. the next day because they heard a woman crying.
Clearynne was lying on her back on her bed, naked. An autopsy showed that the girl was ki*lled by strangulation between 11:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. The medical examiner said that the amount of cocaine in her body was not enough to ki*ll her.
At first, the jealous lover with the bad temper was thought to be responsible. But after he passed a polygraph test, people stopped being interested in him.
Then, Wayne Hudson, a known criminal, gave detectives a break when he said that DeJac, who he had known since childhood, admitted to kil*ling her daughter.
It was in April 1994 that the woman’s shady past with men, drugs, and alcohol was brought up in court.
After being found guilty of second-degree m*urder in April 1994 for the d*eath of her daughter, DeJac was given a sentence of 25 years to life.
Her lawyer said that the main piece of evidence that proved she ki*lled her daughter was testimony from a neighbour who said DeJac had admitted to the crime.
There was no physical or forensic evidence that pointed the finger at DeJac. During the trial, DeJac was pregnant. While she was in jail, she gave birth to twin boys and later married the boys’ father, Chuck Peters, while she was still in jail.
Then the prosecution’s case began to fall apart. In 1993, Donohue suffocated a woman in Buffalo and was wanted for the mu*rder of another woman in Buffalo in 1975.
The DNA that matched Donohue’s was found when the DeJac case’s evidence in the room and on the body was looked at again.
Genetic information also showed that DeJac wasn’t with her daughter when she died.
Donohue was given immunity for testifying in grand jury against his ex-girlfriend, so he could not be charged with the crime. After that, he went to prison for ki*lling someone else in Buffalo.
DeJac was the first woman to have a m*urder conviction overturned because of genetic evidence. On November 28, 2007, the charges were dropped.
By getting married to Chuck Peters, the father of her twin boys, DeJac tried to start over. She sued the government for paying her for the time she was in jail, and in 2012, a settlement of $2.7 million was reached.
One month after receiving the payment, she was given a terminal c*ancer diagnosis.