Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas will continue to seek the death penalty for the man accused of committing the worst mass killing in Orange County history despite objections from some victims' relatives.
The relatives of the victims have been meeting with Rackauckas and his staff since last month when they learned that the trial of Scott Evans Dekraai, 43, would be delayed again from November to March 2014.
Some of the victims' relatives think it would speed up the legal process if Rackauckas would accept a plea bargain proposal from defense attorneys for Dekraai to plead guilty with a guarantee of life in prison without parole.
"There are certain crimes that are so heinous there's no other punishment that comes close to serving justice," said Rackauckas' chief of staff, Susan Kang Schroeder.
"Some of the family wanted to talk to the district attorney and illustrate their frustration, and we understand their frustration, and we're frustrated the defense keeps up with delay tactics," Schroeder said. "We've been ready to go to trial for a long time."
Messages left with Scott Sanders of the Orange County Public Defender's Office, who is representing Dekraai, were not immediately returned.
"Unfortunately, the defense gets to dictate by telling the court that they're not ready when it goes to trial," Schroeder said.
While the opinions of family members are important, prosecutors also must consider the community's wishes as well, Schroeder said.
Paul Wilson, husband of 47-year-old Christy Wilson, who was killed in the Oct. 12, 2011, massacre at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach, said he understands Rackauckas' intentions, but disagrees.
"I don't want to sound like I'm not backing his decision, but I can't say that I agree with it," Wilson told City News Service.
Wilson suspects that even if prosecutors are successful that Dekraai will die in prison awaiting execution anyway, like most defendants on death row.
"He'll just sit in a prison cell anyway and die there," Wilson said. "He's never getting out of jail either way, and that's my problem with the whole thing. If we got a death penalty verdict and they put him to death then absolutely that's the right thing to do, but he's going to sit in a prison cell because California doesn't put people to death."
Prosecutors should accept the defense's plea bargain offer because it would spare the families of going through a lengthy trial that would lead to many of the relatives having to testify, Wilson said.
Wilson was disappointed Rackauckas never asked family members their opinion of the defense's plea bargain offer.
"It's going to be devastating to my family to have to go through this," Wilson said.
Dekraai is charged with eight counts of murder, with a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, and one count of attempted murder.
Dekraai is accused of walking into the salon and gunning down his ex- wife, 48-year-old Michelle Fournier, before opening fire on others inside and outside the business.
Killed in addition to Wilson and Fournier were salon owner Randy Lee Fannin, 62; Victoria Ann Buzzo, 54; Lucia Bernice Kondas, 65; Laura Lee Elody, 46; Michele Daschbach Fast, 47; and David Caouette, 64.
Hattie Stretz, 73, survived her injuries.Facebook | Follow us on Twitter and Sign up for the daily email with links to the latest local news.