SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — The state Attorney General's Office said Friday it would appeal a judge's decision removing the Orange County District Attorney's Office from the case of Scott Dekraai, who has been charged in the worst mass killing in the county's history.
Last week's ruling by Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals had been stayed until Friday to allow for a possible appeal.
Dekraai, 45, pleaded guilty last year to killing his ex-wife and seven other people in and around a Seal Beach beauty salon on Oct. 12, 2011. His attorney, Scott Sanders, has been working to have the death penalty removed as an option for his client, and to have the District Attorney's Office removed from the case, arguing misuse of jailhouse informants and accusing investigators of lying about their handling of the case.
Goethals agreed last week to remove the District Attorney's Office from the case, putting the state Attorney General's Office in charge, but refused to remove the death penalty as an option.
A statement from the Attorney General's Office says the ruling "lacks legal justification and must be appealed."
"The attorney general believes the findings of the court regarding the discovery violations in this case are serious and demand further investigation," according to the Attorney General's Office. "But, as the court found, 'there is no direct evidence that the district attorney actively participated in the concealment of this information from the defense and the court."'
The judge said that the actions of the district attorney and his agents demonstrate a conflict of interest that has deprived Dekraai of his due process in the past.
"This court does not order the district attorney's recusal as a punitive measure," Goethals said, but to ensure Dekraai's right to a fair judicial process.
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