John Dungan Gets Three Consecutive Sentences in Santa Barbara Triple Homicide

Judge Thomas Adams Gives 15 Years to Life for Each Count in Intentional Collision That Killed Three

Defendant John Dungan on Friday, July 15. | Credit: Rodrigo Hernandez

Nearly three years after intentionally swerving his Chevy Camaro into oncoming traffic at nearly 120 miles per hour in October 2019 — smashing head-on into another vehicle and killing 34-year-old Rebecca Vanessa Goss Bley and her two children — John Dungan was sentenced to three consecutive terms of 15 years to life by Judge Thomas Adams in Santa Barbara on Monday.

Dungan was found guilty of three felony counts of second-degree murder on August 2, following an emotionally charged trial that recounted the events leading up to and following the fatal collision on October 25, 2019. The prosecution team — led by deputy district attorneys Megan Chanda and Stephen Wagner — originally sought three counts of first-degree murder and built a case that a suicidal and homicidal Dungan purposely plowed his car into Bley’s Chevy Volt, ejecting her from the vehicle and killing the two children trapped inside.

Vanessa Goss Bley with husband Max Gleason and their children, Lucienne and Desmond Bley Gleason. | Credit: Courtesy

Max Gleason, Bley’s husband and father to 2-year-old Lucienne Bley Gleason and 4-month-old Desmond Bley Gleason, was not present for the sentencing, but many family members were in the gallery. Several members of the Gleason family spoke to the court, providing tearful tributes to the three victims and asking that Judge Adams follow the Probation Department’s pre-sentencing report recommendation of three consecutive sentences.

“In that single incident, my whole family was erased,” said Max Gleason, in comments read by family members.

His mother, Niki Gleason, said the idea of “lumping their lives together” as a concurrent sentence would be hurtful, and his sister, Callie Gleason, said that Dungan’s actions were representative of “young men across the country killing without regard.”

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Kevin Gleason — Max’s father and grandfather to Lu and Des, as the family called them — fought through tears during his powerful testimony.

“John Dungan is a coward,” he said. “A coward blames the world and everyone in it for their shortcomings. My hope is that he spends the rest of his life in prison.”

The prosecution closed by reminding the court of the evidence brought forward during the seven-week trial: Dungan was by all accounts a mentally troubled individual, who was found guilty of stalking an ex-girlfriend months before the incident. After that, he was found in possession of numerous rifles and thousands of rounds of ammo, and he was placed on a GPS-monitoring program. Minutes before crashing on Highway 154, Dungan removed the ankle monitor and threw it into the bushes on the side of the road. Then, when approaching Cold Spring Canyon Bridge, he veered into the opposite lane — gas pedal to the floor — and removed his seatbelt, intent on killing himself and whoever he happened to hit.

Deputy District Attorney Wagner said these actions displayed “aggravation and callous disregard,” and that Dungan “never once asked about the victims.”

Dungan sat quietly through the comments, eyes locked on the judge’s bench. He spoke for the first time in the entire trial, reading from a folded handwritten note in a deep, hollow, and hoarse voice. He described “coming back from the brink of death” to a waking nightmare and said, “God gave me a second chance,” pausing several times to collect himself. 

“If there was anything I could do to bring them back, I would,” he said.

Judge Adams read the pre-sentencing report, detailing its findings that Dungan’s actions were intentional and that he “posed a danger to the safety of the community” if released. His ruling followed the recommendations of the report, sentencing Dungan to 15 years to life for each of the three counts, to be served consecutively. He will serve 45 years to life.

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