The worst mass shooting in Orange County occurred in 2011. Scott Evans Dekraai killed eight people at a Seal Beach salon.
Dekraai pleaded guilty to the murders in 2014. The case has been in limbo for years due to authorities violating Dekraai constitutional rights . The Orange County Sheriff Department housed an informant near Dekraai in prison in hopes that Dekraai would provide evidence of the killings which could lead authorities to seek the death penalty.
Due to these bizarre tactics, Orange County Superior Judge Thomas Goethals blocked prosecutors from seeking the death penalty against Dekraai. The judge based his ruling on the mishandling of information regarding informants, he thought this would prevent a fair trial.
Goethals criticized the conduct of sheriff’s officials and prosecutors. Time and time again, he said, the Sheriff’s Department failed to comply with his orders to turn over information about the use of informants in the county jail.
“The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has consistently responded to this court’s lawful orders with such indolence and obfuscation that this court has lost confidence that it can ever secure compliance from the prosecution team,” Goethals wrote in his 19-page decision.
The Sheriff’s Department disagreed, saying in a statement that the “facts in this case clearly supported a death penalty verdict.”
“The decision to remove the death penalty rests at the feet of Judge Goethals and nobody else,” the department said.
Los Angeles Times contributed to this report