Orange County District Attorney

By Paloma Esquivel
February 27, 2014, 4:38 p.m.

Attorneys for the man charged with killing eight people in a Seal Beach salon three years ago have accused Orange County prosecutors and sheriff’s deputies of running an unconstitutional jailhouse informant operation that ensnared their client and other inmates.

Scott Dekraai’s public defenders say that the district attorney’s office oversaw an “unchecked and lawless custodial informant program” which resulted in systemic constitutional violations and kept defense attorneys in the dark about the so-called jailhouse snitches.

Dekraai faces the death penalty for allegedly walking into Salon Meritage on Oct. 12, 2011 and opening fire, killing his ex-wife and seven others in the county’s deadliest shooting.

Deputy public defenders Scott Sanders and Lisa Kopelman outlined the allegations in a 505-page motion filed Jan. 31, charging that the prosecution cannot be trusted to put on a fair trial.

The attorneys are asking the court to dismiss the death penalty allegation against Dekraai and bar the district attorney’s office from prosecuting the case.

Assistant Dist. Atty. Dan Wagner called the allegations “scurrilous and unfounded” and said he would respond to the specifics in court.

“It is filled with untruths,” he said.

A hearing on the motion is scheduled Friday in Orange County Superior Court.

Families of the salon victims have grown impatient with constant delays in the trial, but Sanders said that much of the delay stems from his office’s efforts to investigate the use of jailhouse informants. The motion is based on an examination of thousands of pages of records and hundreds of hours of recordings which the court had ordered turned over to the defense last year.

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