The sister of a woman killed in the October 2011 Seal Beach salon massacre today blasted California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s decision to seek the death penalty against Scott Dekraai, the confessed shooter.
Speaking in Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Goethals’ court, Bethany Webb outlined her belief that a capital punishment conclusion to the case means Dekraai will continue to be in the news for years while lawyers battle over appeals, a course guaranteed to prolong her agony.
“[They’d like to] say they are speaking for my family,” said Webb, about the attorney general’s office. “They are doing it to my family . . . We won’t find relief in his death. This is a waste of time. We are six years later and we are not closer to an end. This case is fatally flawed and everybody knows it.”
Special evidentiary hearings in 2014 and 2015 revealed how jail deputies inside the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) violated Dekraai’s constitutional rights in hopes of assuring he’d land on San Quintin State Prison’s notorious death row.
The hearings also helped prove the existence of a secretive, multi-decade system designed to trample pre-trial defendants’ rights against self-incrimination by employing jailhouse informants to question government targets.
San Diego-based Deputy Attorney General Michael T. Murphy, who took over prosecutorial chores after Goethals recused District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and his entire staff because of ethical concerns, didn’t bother to turn around and face Webb as she spoke or offer a reaction.
Murphy did, however, apologize to Scott Sanders, the assistant public defender representing Dekraai, for failing to give him a customary courtesy call before issuing the March 29 press release on their death penalty decision.
That release called Goethals “Timothy” and misspelled Dekraai’s name.
“This is a challenging case with a lot of moving parts,” Murphy told the judge.
The parties are scheduled to return for another hearing on April 21, when Goethals could announce the dates for a new evidentiary hearing into why Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and her staff have repeatedly lied in the case and also defied his discovery orders since January 2013.
Sanders also discovered huge gaps in OCSD records that have been reluctantly surrendered.
“If the evidence convinces me that anyone has destroyed any evidence,” said Goethals, “those people are going to go to jail because that can’t happen, folks.”
Webb’s sister, Laura Webb Elody, was one of eight people Dekraai killed during a two-minute shooting rampage prompted by anger at his ex-wife, who was inside the salon.
For more than two years, she has advocated a punishment of life in prison without the possibility for parole.
R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.