SANTA ANA, Calif. ― Scott Dekraai, the shooter in the worst mass killing in Orange County, California, history, was sentenced on Friday to eight consecutive life terms in prison without the possibility of parole, rather than receiving the death penalty, because of government misconduct linked to a jail informant program.
The sentence handed down by Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals amounted to one life term for each person Dekraai shot and killed at a Seal Beach salon in 2011. He received an additional seven years to life for the victim who survived his rampage.
Last month, in a rare move, Goethals had excluded the death penalty as a punishment option after concluding that county prosecutors and sheriff’s deputies had engaged in misconduct in the use of the county’s now-notorious jail informant program. The sentencing comes after Goethals held weeks of hearings centered on whether the Orange County Sheriff’s Department could be trusted to turn over all records in the case.
“I have seen some extraordinary events in my time, but nothing like what has unfolded in this courtroom ― crimes and investigative conduct like I’ve seen here,” Goethals said from the bench before he read out the full sentence.
On the day that Dekraai opened fire in the hair salon, the judge said, “the gates of hell flew open” and Dekraai “emerged as the face of evil.” Goethals said that for his crimes, Dekraai deserves to spend the rest of his life “in a cramped cell in a maximum security prison in some forgotten corner of California.”
Deputy Attorney General Michael Murphy ― the state prosecutor who took over the Dekraai case after Goethals recused the entire Orange County District Attorney’s office due to misconduct ― told the court that the California Attorney General’s office would not appeal the sentence.
On Friday morning, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that his office would abide by Goethals’ decision to preclude the death penalty. “Our thoughts turn to the victims and families whose lives were shattered by this senseless act of inhumanity,” he said.
Both survivors of the brutal attack and family members of those who had lost their lives delivered heart-wrenching remarks before the sentence was handed down, often directing their anger at Dekraai who sat before them.
At one point, Paul Wilson, whose wife Christy was killed, spoke about her and the devastation of her loss.
“Sorry, Paul,” Dekraai said.
The courtroom exploded with…