Appeals Court Backs Orange County D.A.'s Removal From High-Profile Murder Case

Orange County’s own District Attorney’s Office will have no further involvement with the worst case of a mass shooting in the county’s history. On Tuesday, a state appellate panel upheld a Superior Court judge’s decision to recuse District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ office from the penalty trial of mass murderer Scott Evans Dekraai on the basis that it’s too cozy with local law enforcement and could not be trusted to provide a fair hearing.

Tuesday’s decision is just the latest fallout from the shocking jailhouse informant scandal that has rocked county prosecutors and law enforcement.

“Not only did the OCDA intentionally or negligently ignore the (Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s) violations of targeted defendants’ constitutional rights, but the OCDA on its own violated targeted defendants’ constitutional rights through its participation in the (confidential informant) program,” said the 4th District Court of Appeal in its ruling.

If the appellate court decision is not overturned by a higher court, the California Attorney General’s Office will decide how to proceed.

“No matter who handles this case, the OCDA believes that these murders were callous, cruel, and committed with a malignant heart,” Rackauckas’ Office said in a statement. “The defendant deserves the ultimate punishment of death.”

Read more about Tuesday’s ruling here.