Seal Beach

California Attorney General Will Continue to Seek Death Penalty for Seal Beach Salon Killer

The 2011 mass shooting at Salon Meritage left eight people dead

California's attorney general will continue to seek the death penalty for a man who killed eight people in a shooting rampage at a hair salon.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the decision on Wednesday, saying the murders, Orange County's worst mass shooting, had harmed "far too many families."

Scott Dekraai pleaded guilty to killing eight people in the 2011 attack in Seal Beach. He has not been sentenced and is due in court on Thursday.

"This tragic event has caused so much harm to far too many families," Becerra said. "After weighing the evidence, considering the law and the responsibilities of my office, I have concluded that the appropriate course of action is to seek the death penalty in this case."

Orange County's district attorney was seeking the death penalty for Dekraai but was pulled from the case after Dekraai's attorney learned that a jailhouse informant had been chatting with his client even though he had a lawyer.

The discovery led to a broader probe of the use of jailhouse informants.

Dekraai's attorney, Scott Sanders, said he was "very disappointed" in the attorney general's decision.

"The Attorney General's Office did not inform us directly of their decision, and we are certainly very disappointed in the path they have chosen," Sanders told City News Service. "However, as will begin to show very soon, the misconduct that has poisoned this litigation is far more extensive than even known to the defense a few months ago. We look forward to fully adjudicating all of the issues relevant to this case."

For the victims' families, a rollercoaster of emotions have accompanied the case mired in legal limbo. 

"It just adds to the pain and suffering to every single family member," Paul Wilson, whose wife was killed in the rampage, told The Associated Press last year.

He has argued that prosecutors should give up on the death penalty since no one has been put to death in California in years due to legal issues with the administering of the lethal drugs. Several other family members agree with Wilson, but others wanted to continue to seek capital punishment.

Dekraai had argued with the ex-wife, 48-year-old Michelle Fournier, on the morning of the mass shooting. He was in a dispute over child support at the time, authorities said.

Armed with three handguns, extra magazines and wearing a bulletproof vest, he drove to Salon Meritage in the OC seaside community early that afternoon, walked up to Fournier and shot her. Dekraai then shot and killed a woman who testified against him at a child support hearing. The salon owner tried to use a pair of scissors to stop him, but Dekraai shot and killed him, too.

Dekraai then started shooting at random, gunning down others he viewed as "collateral damage," authorities said in a legal document.

A man seated in a Range Rover parked next to Dekraai's vehicle also was killed as the gunman left the salon.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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