Orange County District Attorney Prepared Murder Charges Against Dorner

The office held off on filing a criminal complaint against Dorner while the manhunt continued

Keith Lawrence and Monica Quan

In the wake of the slayings of an Irvine basketball coach and her fiance last week, the Orange County District Attorney's office prepared to charge former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner with two counts of murder -- but held off on filing the case in court.

The office prepared a criminal complaint against Dorner on Feb. 8, five days after police found the bodies of Keith Lawrence and Monica Quan – daughter of a retired LAPD captain mentioned in Dorner's target-naming manifesto. The couple were shot to death in their car in an Irvine parking garage.

The DA's office chose not to file criminal charges in court against Dorner, though it did on Feb. 6 obtain an arrest warrant for him, Susan Kang Schroeder, OCDA chief of staff, said in a press release Thursday.

Timeline: Revenge-Plot Slayings | Read: Full Manifesto | Map: Dorner Manhunt

"In the interest of public safety, and for tactical and investigative purposes, the OCDA made the legal determination to wait to file the criminal charges against Dorner until he was arrested and taken into custody," the DA's release stated. "This decision was reviewed and discussed daily and the OCDA was prepared to file a case against the defendant on a moment’s notice should he have been apprehended or new developments in the case deemed it appropriate."

The Riverside County District Attorney, by contrast, filed charges against Dorner on Monday, Feb. 11, four days after the then-fugitive allegedly shot at two Riverside police officers, killing Officer Michael Crain.

The killing of Quan and Lawrence began a shooting spree and manhunt that led authorities to the Big Bear area, where Dorner is thought to have hidden. On Tuesday, a pursuit of a man resembling Dorner led to gunfight and the burning down of a cabin from which the suspect never emerged. The remains found in the cabin still have not been identified, but the San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said Wednesday that authorities believed the investigation into Dorner was "over at this point."

Schroeder said Orange County prosecutors intend to release a publicly available report on Dorner and the Quan-Keith slayings similar to the detailed documents they make available after investigating officer-involved-shootings in the county.

"We intend to release a full report," Schroeder said.

The criminal complaint that was prepared against Dorner by the Orange County DA charged him with special circumstance allegations for lying in wait and for committing multiple murders with an additional sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death – in addition to the two felony murder counts.

The Orange County District Attorney would likely have sought the death penalty in the case, according to the office's press release.

Also on Thursday, the Orange County Fire Authority provided NBC4 with audio of disptach communications with units responding to the garage in which the bodies of Lawrence and Quan were found.

"PD is advising of two patients, unknown status," the dispatcher said. "They're requesting that you enter, however, the suspect is still outstanding. Enter using caution. The person is still outstanding in the area, possibly."

Contact Us