Sen. Janet Nguyen Thursday called on the state Attorney General’s Office to continue pursuing the death penalty against Scott Evans Dekraai, the worst mass killer in Orange County history.
The appeal by Nguyen, R-Garden Grove, comes more than a week after a panel of Fourth District Court of Appeal justices affirmed a lower court’s ruling recusing the Orange County district attorney’s office from the case against Dekraai, who has pleaded guilty to eight murders and one attempted murder in and around a Seal Beach beauty salon five years ago, but is awaiting the penalty phase of his trial as prosecutors were seeking to have him put to death.
If Attorney General’s Office declines to appeal the Nov. 22 ruling, it would have to decide whether to pursue the death penalty or just let Dekraai default to a state-mandated life without the possibility of parole sentence.
“We will never be able to replace the loved ones lost, but we do owe it to the families and friends of Mr. Dekraai’s victims to ensure that he is held accountable, to the fullest extent, for the lives he took,” Nguyen said.
“For the anguish he caused and the disregard he displayed for human life, Mr. Dekraai deserves to receive the death penalty.”
Kristin Ford, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office, said, “We are still reviewing the (justices’) ruling.”
The Attorney General’s Office has until Jan. 3 to decide whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
The appellate justices upheld the recusal of the District Attorney’s Office by citing “institutional” problems with the handling of jailhouse informants, particularly in the investigation against Dekraai.
The justices ruled Dekraai could not get a fair trial because prosecutors have shown a penchant for siding with their law enforcement partners, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which the justices faulted for much of the problems with the handling of “snitches,” who have been accused in multiple cases of violating the constitutional rights of cell mates as they surreptitiously try to glean helpful information for investigators.
–City News Service