Scales of Justice

Tony Saavedra / Staff Writer
June 9, 2016 – Updated 10:49 p.m.

Secret notes kept by Orange County sheriff’s deputies on jailhouse informants appear to contradict testimony given by deputies during legal hearings for confessed Seal Beach mass murderer Scott Dekraai, prosecutors said late Thursday.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office also said it is scouring the 1,157 pages of notes received last month from the Sheriff’s Department for evidence that should have been turned over to defense lawyers in other criminal cases. It’s unclear how many cases might be affected.

Prosecutors and sheriff’s administrators said Thursday that they initially were surprised by the existence of the computerized notes, which cover the period from September 2008 to January 2013.

In a legal brief delivered Thursday to Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals, Assistant District Attorney Dan Wagner wrote: “The OCDA believes it must correct the record by providing the log to the court.”

The notes could support Goethals’ contention that at least two deputies “lied or deliberately withheld material evidence” under oath in hearings during the Dekraai case. Goethals ended the March 2015 hearings by removing the Orange County District Attorney’s Office from the Dekraai case and turning it over to state Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Since then, at least five sheriff’s deputies have declined to testify in other criminal cases, citing their right not to incriminate themselves.

The secret logs also could fuel accusations by Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders that local police and prosecutors cultivated a team of jailhouse informants to get confessions illegally and then hid evidence from the defense.

Prosecutors handed the notes over to Goethals on Thursday under a temporary seal and asked for permission to give the documents to Sanders, who is defending Dekraai in the penalty phase of his murder trial.

The notes also were turned over to Harris’ office, which is conducting a criminal investigation into the District Attorney’s Office’s use of jailhouse informants and alleged dishonesty by deputies.

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