In an exclusive interview from a California prison, Don Bohana, the man convicted of the 1994 murder of girlfriend Dee Dee Jackson, Tito Jackson’s ex-wife, told ABC News’ “20/20” that he’d sooner die in prison than admit to killing her.
“Hell will freeze over before I admit I did something I didn’t do,” he said.
Bohana, now in his 80s and having spent 19 years in prison, is preparing to petition the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office 2-year-old Conviction Review Unit in hopes of having his conviction overturned.
In 1994, he was a 59-year-old divorcee when he met 39-year-old Delores “Dee Dee” Jackson. He lived an upscale lifestyle, owning luxury cars, a plane and a boat. An L.A. businessman, Bohana was handsome, wealthy and successful, making his fortune running hospitals and insurance companies.
He hobnobbed with politicians and celebrities but was also community-minded, opening a Denny’s in Watts, the first sit-down restaurant in the neighborhood since the riots of 1965.
Dee Dee Jackson was a divorcee herself, after ending her marriage to Tito Jackson, a member of the famous Jackson 5 and the father of her three sons, Taj, TJ and Taryll.
A hot August night in Los Angeles
On the night of Aug. 26, 1994, she was with Bohana at his home in the exclusive Ladera Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles County. The two had been dating for eight weeks. It was 11 p.m. and the two were alone, finishing a late dinner and imbibing. Bohana was drinking wine; Dee Dee Jackson, rum and Coke.
“It was very, very hot, unusually hot in L.A. at the time. … We’d go out, sit by the pool, have a couple of drinks. Delores would sometimes have a cigarette. It’s very romantic,” he said.
Hours later, around 3:30 a.m., though, Bohana was on the phone with a 911 operator. As he told “20/20”, the two had ended up in the hot tub. Dee Dee Jackson, he said, then swam over, back and forth, in the pool when he noticed that she seemed to be in trouble. Bohana says that after a series of desperate attempts, he managed to get her out of the deep end of the pool -– 15 feet of water.
“I jumped in, put my arms around her and then flipped her out of the pool,” he said. “At that time, I started doing CPR on her.”
After he called 911, emergency medical personnel arrived. An unresponsive Dee Dee Jackson was transported to a hospital but doctors later pronounced her dead.
An autopsy report showed that her blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit for driving. The…