Orange County prosecutors announced Friday they will seek the death penalty against one of two registered sex offenders charged in the rape-murders of four prostitutes in Anaheim and Santa Ana.

Franc Cano (left) and Steven Dean Gordon. Photos via Megan’s Law site

A Feb. 8 trial date was also set Friday for Steven Dean Gordon, 46, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin.

“If you simply look at the allegations, once they’re proved it’s worthwhile for the ultimate penalty — four murders and four rapes,” Yellin said of the decision to seek a death sentence for Gordon should he be convicted

A decision on whether to seek the death penalty for co-defendant Franc Cano has yet to be made, Yellin said. The two will go on trial separately.

Gordon and Cano, 29, were registered sex offenders when they allegedly killed the four women, Yellin said.

Only the body of 21-year-old Jarrae Nykkole Estepp has been found. Her remains were recovered on March 14, 2013, in an Anaheim recycling factility.

The defendants are also accused of killing Kianna Jackson, 20, of Las Vegas, and Josephine Vargas, 34, and Martha Anaya, 28, both of Santa Ana.

Investigators ultimately determined that attempting to excavate the two landfills where they were probably dumped — in Sylmar and Brea — would be too difficult and unlikely to produce results.

When Gordon was arrested, he initially tried to take the fall for everything, claiming that in each case, he just wanted to have sex with the victims, but things got out of hand for one reason or another and the killings were “crimes of passion,” according to grand jury testimony.

At one point during the 13 1/2-hour interview with Gordon, he said he wanted to speak to Cano, but a detective lied to him and said Cano didn’t want to talk to him, according to grand jury testimony.

That “triggered” Gordon to change his tune and say that both of them were along for the picking up of the prostitutes and the killings, according to the detective.

The two paid to have sex with Estepp, and when they were done, Gordon asked Cano to leave and told the victim he wanted her to “make love to him like he was her boyfriend,” according to grand jury testimony.

Estepp “complied,” but when Cano later woke them up and Gordon asked her to do it again, she said she wanted to leave, Anaheim detective Julissa Trapp alleged. The detective said a fight ensued, with Estepp spraying both men with Mace.

“Gordon mentioned that they had a really hard time killing her,” Trapp testified.

Left unanswered in the grand jury testimony is how exactly the two men were allowed to spend time with each other, since it would normally be a violation of the terms of their release as registered sex offenders.

There was about a 10-day period when Gordon was segueing from federal to state monitoring when one of the murders took place, according to the grand jury testimony.

The two defendants also appeared to know how to avoid raising red flags with their monitors as they stayed within the cities they were allowed to frequent, authorities said.

Cano was convicted in 2008 of lewd and lascivious acts on a child younger than 14, while Gordon has two convictions from 1992 for lewd and lascivious acts on a child younger than 14, as well as kidnapping his estranged wife in 2002.

The men pleaded guilty in 2013 to failing to register as sex offenders in Nevada and were sentenced to time served in custody, according to federal court documents. They both had their cases sent back to Orange County.

The two men had cut off their GPS devices before going to Las Vegas, officials said. They were put on lifetime supervised release and were again tracked with GPS monitors.

— City News Service

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