A former tugboat captain who carried out Orange County’s worst mass shooting was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison Friday for killing eight people at a Seal Beach salon in 2011.
The sentencing of Scott Evans Dekraai, 47, marked an emotional end to a case that has roiled the county’s criminal justice system amid allegations that authorities used a secret network of jailhouse informants to violate inmates’ constitutional rights.
The so-called snitch scandal led Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals last month to block prosecutors from pursuing the death penalty against Dekraai, ruling that the county’s mishandling of information regarding informants would prevent a fair trial. The decision, which followed lengthy hearings that included testimony from Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, was criticized by law enforcement leaders, who said Dekraai deserves to be executed.
“The criminal justice system here in Orange County has largely failed you,” Goethals said to the victims’ relatives, many of whom were in court Friday. “You deserve better.”
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