Orange County District Attorney

By Christopher Goffard
March 12, 2015

In a stinging rebuke, a criminal court judge removed the Orange County district attorney’s office from one of its highest-profile murder cases, saying prosecutors had violated mass shooter Scott Dekraai’s rights by repeatedly failing to turn over important evidence.

“Certain aspects of the district attorney’s performance in this case might be described as a comedy of errors but for the fact that it has been so sadly deficient,” Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals wrote in his ruling. “There is nothing funny about that.”

Goethals, though, declined to remove the death penalty as a potential punishment for Dekraai, a former tugboat captain who gunned down his ex-wife and seven others at a Seal Beach salon in 2011.

The judge ruled Thursday that prosecutors had shown a “chronic failure” to comply with orders to turn over evidence to the defense, and had so far deprived Dekraai — who has pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder — of his right to a fair penalty-phase trial.

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