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Dekraai's Lawyer Tries to Get the Death Penalty off the Table

A judge unseals a 505-page motion which alleges prosecutorial misconduct by depending on an unreliable jailhouse informant.

Scott Evans Dekraai. Patch file photo.
Scott Evans Dekraai. Patch file photo.

By PAUL ANDERSON
City News Service

Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals unsealed a 505-page motion made by defense attorneys for accused mass killer Scott Evans Dekraai in an effort to get the death penalty off the table.

To that end, Dekraai’s lawyers allege prosecutorial misconduct and the improper use of jailhouse informants.

At issue, according to Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders, is how the Orange County Sheriff's Department is handling a jailhouse informant -- named in court papers as “Inmate F.” Sanders alleges the inmate is being improperly put into isolation with other inmates to not arouse suspicion so he can strike up a conversation and collect incriminating statements for investigators.

Sanders is alleging constitutional violations of his client’s rights while in custody. He has said he is willing to have Dekraai plead guilty to spare him the death penalty and receive life in prison without the possibility of parole.

But prosecutors are aiming for death row.

“It's still our position that there is a death penalty in California and because of that if there is a case deserving of the death penalty it's this one,” said Assistant District Attorney Dan Wagner.

“Anything less would really trivialize'' what Dekraai allegedly did, Wagner said.

Wagner told reporters after this afternoon's hearing that the 505-page motion is “filled with untruths” and is “assuming the worst about us. We're confident it will be shown to be inaccurate.”

Prosecutors only want to use statements Dekraai allegedly made to a fellow inmate, which was being recorded on a listening device, in the penalty phase of his trial, Wagner said.

“A listening device was placed in defendant's jail cell and captured statements made by the defendant in which in detail he relived the crime and bragged about it,” Wagner said. “The statements are the most candid and revealing by the defendant.”

In the first week of March, it is expected a hearing on the government misconduct allegations will be held that could last several days and involve Sanders questioning prosecutors.

Sanders told Goethals he anticipates filing a motion Tuesday to have the Orange County District Attorney's Office removed from the case and have the state Attorney General take over the prosecution.

The allegations of misconduct also apply to several cases involving a federal and state crackdown on violence in Orange County jails, nicknamed Operation Black Flag and Operation Smokin' Aces. Defense attorneys allege that Inmate F was being spared a third strike, guaranteeing life in prison, in exchange for snitching on inmates in settings that violate his cellmate's constitutional rights.

The defense attorneys also suspect Inmate F was offering contradictory testimony in connected gang cases to best suit the prosecution, and that some prosecutors would only hand over part of the informant's notes and not all of them as required.

Dekraai, 44, is accused of killing eight people in the Oct. 12, 2011, massacre at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach.

Jeffrey Hathcock February 15, 2014 at 03:01 PM
If anyone ever deserved the death penalty it's Scott Dekraii. His low-life defense attorney is trying every strategy he can to keep this monster Dekraii from going to the gas chamber even though he knows his client is guilty. The man confessed when he was captured. He had the murder weapon. He had the motive. He killed eight innocent people in cold blood. And, yet, his "defense" attorney is doing his darndest to make it appear that Dekraii is a victim of a jailhouse informant. This is what happens when attorneys are able to delay and delay and twist facts and circumstances. This rotten bastard should have been tried and executed within one year from the murders. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm fed up with our judicial system. We need to change it, people!
J. Hertzler February 15, 2014 at 11:02 PM
The only ones benefiting from out rotten judicial system are attorneys!
Doug Childers February 16, 2014 at 11:00 AM
there hasn't been an execution in California since 2006. I'm not sure why the district attorney does not accept the deal and would rather see everyone continue to suffer to this date. this just opens it up for continued appeals and for their shenanigans there will not be an end in sight for quite a while
Marc Cobb February 16, 2014 at 06:30 PM
The attempt to DQ the OC district attorney and have the state attorney general try the case, assures that the death penalty will not be sought. Kammala Harris would not seek the death penalty in San Francisco as DA for any case including the assasination of a policeman who was already wounded on the ground. Hopefully the Judge see's through this ruse.
andy fischer February 18, 2014 at 09:59 AM
Death penalty is wasting human resources. Put him to work.

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