Scott Dekraai, the man accused of killing eight people during a shooting rampage at a Seal Beach beauty salon, will plead guilty to all counts, his attorney announced Monday.
Dekraai was charged with eight felony counts of special circumstance first degree murder in the October 2011 shootings at Salon Meritage.
Prosecutors said Dekraai was wearing a bulletproof vest and armed with three firearms when he walked into the salon and opened fire, killing his ex-wife and seven others.
“For almost two minutes, Dekraai shot victim after victim, executing eight people by shooting them in the head and chest,” Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said in a news conference announcing the charges in 2011.
The victim’s included: 54-year-old salon employee Victoria Buzzo, 46–year-old salon employee Laura Elody, 62-year-old salon owner Randy Fannin, 47-year-old salon employee Michele Fast, 48-year-old salon employee Michelle Fournier, the defendant’s ex-wife, 65-year-old salon client Lucia Kondas, 47-year-old salon employee Christy Lynn Wilson and 64-year-old David Caouette, who was sitting in a vehicle outside the salon.
Prosecutors said the motive behind the shooting was a custody dispute over the couple’s 8-year-old son.
“While Dekraai rampaged through a hair salon shooting at innocent victims, the son he supposedly ‘loved’ was sitting alone in the principal’s office at school waiting for his mom or dad to pick him up,” Rackauckas said. “That little boy is also a victim. He is now left to mourn the murder of his mother, and grow up with the knowledge that his father committed a mass murder.”
Dekraai’s plea comes in the midst of a weeks-long hearing in which the defense has accused the prosecution of widespread misconduct.
For relief, the defense was asking that the judge remove the District Attorney’s Office from the case and have the State Attorney General’s Office take over the prosecution, or have the death penalty option taken off the table.
On Monday, public defender Scott Sanders made it clear that Dekraai was offered nothing in exchange for his guilty plea.
“Mr. Dekraai, he wanted the victims to know that he will not be challenging at any point, now or in the future, him being in custody for the rest of his life,” Sanders said.
The decision came as welcome news to Paul Caouette, whose father died in the shooting.
“You’ll never replace the lives that were lost, but that’s a relief,” said Caouette.
Even so, family members said they believed Dekraai was motivated more by self-preservation, than remorse.
“He’s never done anything to show that he is sorry,” said Bethany Webb, whose sister was killed in the shooting and her mother wounded.
Chip Yost contributed to this story.