Mass Murderer Scott Dekraai Sentenced To Life In Prison
Scott Dekraai, who committed the worst mass shooting in Orange County's history when he opened fire at a Seal Beach salon in 2011, has been sentenced to life in prison without the option of parole. Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals handed the sentence, saying "The gates of hell flew open and you emerged as the face of evil." He handed eight consecutive life in prison sentences, one for each murder victim.
The extended length of Dekraai's trial comes primarily from the lengthy penalty portion, according to the L.A. Times. Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas used prison informants to try and coax a confession out of Dekraai in order to obtain the death penalty, leading to a criminal justice scandal about whether this infringes on inmates' constitutional rights. Informants are not illegal, but authorities can't "have snitches deliberately seek out information from inmates with legal representation," according to KPCC.
As a result, Judge Goethals removed the death penalty as an option in August, citing law enforcement's inability to provide Dekraai with a fair penalty trial. Even before Goethals' ruling, some of the victims' relatives asked him to throw out the death penalty option because it had the possibility of bringing "decades of appeals," according to the O.C. Register.
Hutchens and Rackauckas denied running such an informant operation, claiming it was a "coincidence" that Fernando Perez, a former informant, ended up housed near Dekraai in prison, according to the L.A. Times. In a statement released Friday, the Orange County District Attorney's Office said "today is an important day for the people of Orange County," while also stating it "disagrees with Judge Goethals’ decision to remove the possibility of the death penalty for the man who will go down as the largest mass murderer in Orange County history."
Besides killing his ex-wife Michelle Fournier, 48, Dekraai killed the salon's owner Randy Fannin, 62; Lucia Kondas, 65; Michele Fast, 47; Victoria Buzzo, 54; Laura Elody, 46; Christy Wilson, 47; and David Caouette, 64. The courtroom was packed with relatives of the victims Friday. The relatives gathered together, wearing t-shirts commemorating the lives of those they lost, and many read statements in the courtroom directed at Dekraai. Paul Wilson, Christy's husband, said “I can only hope that your years in prison are rough,” according to the L.A. Times. He added, "you deserve nothing."