Tony Rackaukas

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said it’s clear that deputies’ testimony was “inconsistent” with statements they made in previous hearings. (SAM GANGWER, FILE PHOTO)

March 14, 2015
Updated March 15, 2015 – 8:22 a.m.
BY KELLY PUENTE / STAFF WRITER

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas conceded Saturday his office made mistakes prosecuting the county’s deadliest killer, but disagrees with a judge’s decision to remove the agency from the case.

Former tugboat worker Scott Dekraai pleaded guilty in May to killing eight people at a Seal Beach salon in 2011 but still faces trial to determine whether he should receive a death sentence.

Superior Judge Thomas Goethals dropped the district attorney from the case Thursday after deciding that two sheriff’s deputies lied in court and that prosecutors had an apparent conflict of interest that kept them from reining in their law enforcement partners.

Rackauckas, in an interview Saturday, said it’s clear that the deputies’ testimony was “inconsistent” with statements they made in previous hearings, but he declined to say whether he would file criminal charges.

He conceded his prosecutors made “missteps” in handing the Dekraai case but said it was not intentional. One of the biggest mistakes, he said, was not thoroughly checking the background of a jailhouse informant placed next to Dekraai after his arrest.

Authorities placed recording equipment in Dekraai’s cell and a paid jailhouse informant in an adjacent cell. Prosecutors later delayed turning over that information to the defense.

“We should have done more to learn the history of the confidential informant that we were working with that was offering information in this case, and frankly I think that’s the greatest mistake and a lot of things have resulted from that,” he said.

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