Judge rules no death penalty in Salon Meritage case

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Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals ruled today, Friday, Aug. 18, that prosecutors may not seek the death penalty against Scott Dekraai, the convicted perpetrator of the Salon Meritage killings in Seal Beach.

As of Monday, Aug. 21, the Calfiornia Attorney General’s Office was reviewing the trial court’s decision.

The judge’s decision was in response to alleged misconduct on the part of law enforcement and prosecutors. The so-called “informant scandal” prompted an Orange County Grand Jury Investigation which concluded the scandal was nothing more than a myth. In fact, the Grand Jury issued the report “The Myth of the Orange County Jailhouse Informant Program” in mid-June of this year.

The allegations of misconduct led the court to remove the DA’s office from prosecuting the murder case. The California Attorney General’s Office took over the prosecution. As of today, however, the trial court has barred both agencies from seeking the death penalty for Dekraai.

Responding to the Friday, Aug. 18 ruling, the DA’s Office issued the following statement:

“The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) is disappointed that Judge Goethals made this unprecedented ruling and has denied the California Attorney General (AG) the ability to pursue the death penalty against convicted murderer Scott Dekraai. Given the pattern and tenor of his previous rulings, Judge Goethals’ decision does not come as a surprise.

“In 2014, the OCDA obtained a guilty plea, ensuring Dekraai would at a minimum be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. The only question remaining was whether he should receive the death penalty for his repugnant, callous, and despicable acts committed while exacting revenge against his ex-wife.

“Dekraai planned and murdered eight, nearly nine innocent people, at the salon where his ex-wife worked, so she would experience the terror and horror of seeing her friends and clients murdered. Whether some members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department failed to produce tangential information in a timely manner has nothing to do with what Dekraai did and the fact that Dekraai deserves the death penalty. The (Attorney General’s Office) made an independent decision to seek the death penalty when the OCDA was recused and should be able to proceed forward because Dekraai would have received a fair trial.”

The 2011 shootings at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach remain the worst mass murder in Orange County history.

Judge rules no death penalty in Salon Meritage case