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Death Penalty for Alleged Mass Murderer Hangs on Nov. Election

Proposition 34 will alter the course of the case against Scott Dekraai, accused of killing eight people in Seal Beach in 2011.

Will Scott Dekraai, the man accused of the deadliest mass murder in Orange County history, avoid the death penalty?

Voters will decide.

The length and nature of Dekraai's trial will depend on the result of Proposition 34, the Nov. 6 ballot measure proposing to abolish California's death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

On Friday morning Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals told a Santa Ana courtroom packed with family members and friends of those killed in the Oct. 12 salon massacre in sleepy Seal Beach that the "logistics" of Dekraai's trial will be determined by the election's result.

Goethals said Dekraai will face a jury as soon as possible. However, he added, the passage of Prop. 34—or its defeat—will affect that timeline.

Goethals agreed Friday to reschedule the pretrial to Jan. 25 and leave the March 25 trial date unchanged until after the election.

If the death penalty is repealed, the trial date set for March 25 is a "realistic" one, prosecutor Scott Simmons said after the hearing.

But if Prop. 34 is defeated, the defense would need more time to prepare for the trial because it would include a second phase to determine whether Dekraai deserves the death penalty.

The situation prompted Bethany Webb, sister of victim Laura Webb, to come out in favor of the death penalty ban.

This is "not about forgiveness," she told reporters Friday. A death penalty case would keep Dekraai in court for years. If that aspect of the prosecution was dropped, Dekraii would soon face a jury—and a  sentence.

But others are not advocating for or against the proposition.

Paul Wilson, husband of shooting victim Christy Wilson, said he will be present to represent his wife at every hearing for Dekraai regardless of what voters decide.

A few days past the one-year anniversary of the shooting, seeing the man suspected in the killings has become no easier, said Chelsea Huff, Michelle Fournier's daughter.

When Dekraai, wearing an orange jumpsuit, was led into the courtroom Friday by a deputy, the sight of him inspired that "same sickening feeling" as it had at previous hearings, Huff said.

Some in the courtroom donned a shirt or pin to display their support for the victims. Butch Fournier, brother of Dekraai's ex-wife Michelle Fournier, was among those wearing blue T-shirts inscribed with "Seal Beach" and "support in love."

John B. Greet October 21, 2012 at 03:25 PM
I am not, to any degree, morally or ethically opposed to the death penalty. I am opposed to the inefficient and ineffective way we carry out our death sentences. One of the reasons many offer for retaining the death penalty is that it serves as a deterrent. Perhaps it does, but, if so, how much more of a deterrent would it be if those on death row had more than a small percentage chance of ever actually being executed? As it is, far more death row inmates die of natural causes than die by execution (only 13 executions in the last 34 years and exactly *none* in the last six.) Since 1978 the administration of death penalty cases has cost our financially over-extended State some $4 billion dollars. Law and order guy that I am, I voted *for* Prop. 34, because our handling of death penalty cases is fatally (sic) flawed and we are not ever likely to correct these flaws. Better to impose Life Without Parole (LWoP, which is effectively what we have anyway) and then do some serious work on reforming our State's entire penal system to make it *more* punitive (which is its stated purpose), *more* of a true deterrent, and far *less* costly.
R. J. Steelworth October 21, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Just going to throw in the towel to the libs and anti death penalty crowd huh? The process in Texas takes about 10-11 years. We need to streamline the process and carry out the will of the people. Appeals should be limited to a factual finding of innocence, not procedural grounds. Some crimes are so horrific, the death penalty is the only appropriate sentence.
John B. Greet October 21, 2012 at 05:54 PM
R.J., no brother, I am attempting to be logical about analyzing the question. I have said that I am not opposed to the death penalty, but the way we currently impose it is not really much of a penalty. The way we administer so-called capital punishment is not, to my mind, much of a punishment at all. To be more effective as both a punishment and a deterrent, the death penalty would have to be imposed far more effectively, efficiently, and timelier than we currently carry out that sentence. How about, instead, judges and juries order LWoP, and then we reform our prison facilities to make those life sentences an absolute misery for those thus adjudged? How about we bring back hard labor and make sure that LWoP inmates serve *truly* "hard" time and that their doing so is well-publicized as a true deterrent to the the rest of society? Now *that* is an approach to criminal justice that I think would be *far* more effective than our current death-penalty-in-name-only approach. I understand that you disagree and I am ok with that. When, after their one and only appeal, we start immediately marching our death-penalty convicts straight out to the public square and executing them on the spot, then I might change my mind on this. Until then, I think LWoP at truly hard labor in a facility that costs us half as much to operate would be a better way to go.
R. J. Steelworth October 21, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Gottcha bro. I say let the libs get in step with the majority who favor capital punishment.
Gordon Deyan October 26, 2012 at 05:37 AM
Hang um from the nearest tree but before you do that, let Paul Wilson have 15 minutes in that dushbags cell !!!!

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