California mass killer sentenced to life in prison for hair salon attack

LOS ANGELES, Sept 22 (Reuters) - A California man was sentenced on Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the worst mass killing in Orange County history, the 2011 shooting deaths of eight people at a hair salon where his ex-wife worked.

Scott Dekraai, a 47-year-old former tugboat worker, was spared the death penalty in August when a judge ruled that serious misconduct by Orange County prosecutors had violated his rights to a fair trial.

“The gates of Hell flew open and you emerged as the face of evil in this community” Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals told Dekraai before pronouncing the sentence, according to the Orange County Register newspaper.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Dekraai attempted to apologize to the husband of one of his victims but was cut off by a member of the audience shouting "Shut up!"

15 PHOTOS
Scott Dekraai hair salon attack
See Gallery
Scott Dekraai hair salon attack
SANTA ANA, CA - MARCH 12: Scott Dekraai enters an Orange County courtroom, Thursday March 12, 2015, for a hearing that he be spared the death penalty. On Oct. 12, 2011, Dekraai -- wearing a bulletproof vest and armed with three semiautomatic handguns -- opened fire in a Seal Beach hair salon where his ex-wife worked. He shot as he walked from station to station at the tiny salon, then shot the driver of a parked car as he left. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA.-MARCH 12, 2015: Photos of the eight people killed at a Seal Beach hair salon in 2011 are memorialized on a poster as Orange County District Attorney Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder, shown in red, and Orange County Assistant District Attorney Dan Wagner, address the media after Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals removed the district attorney's office from handling the case against Scott Dekraai, who killed eight people at a Seal Beach hair salon in 2011 but said the assailant will still face the death penalty, at Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana Thursday, March 12, 2015.The ruling follows accusations that the government mishandled the case. Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals was sharply critical of the district attorney's handling of the case, saying the killer's due-process rights had been violated by the prosecution's 'chronic failure' to turn over evidence.(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)
SANTA ANA, CA-MARCH 18, 2014: Scott Dekraai, accused of killing eight people in a Seal Beach beauty salon, enters the courtroom for a motion hearing in Santa Ana, Calif., Tuesday, March 18, 2014. The hearing is underway to address the public defender's allegations of a widespread, unconstitutional jailhouse informant program that he feels affects the case of his defendant. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA.-MARCH 12, 2015: Reacting to the ruling, Paul Wilson, shown addressing the media at Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana Thursday, March 12, 2015, the husband of shooting victims Christy Wilson, said: 'I'm embarrassed and disgusted. I hope that [Dist Atty.] Tony Raukaukas and his office are held accountable for this. Today I blame them.' 'Tony Raukaukas is like the captain of the Costa Concordia. He jumped ship before it sank,' Wilson said. An Orange County Superior Court judge has removed the district attorney's office from handling the case against Scott Dekraai, who killed eight people at a Seal Beach hair salon in 2011 but said the assailant will still face the death penalty.The ruling follows accusations that the government mishandled the case. Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals was sharply critical of the district attorney's handling of the case, saying the killer's due-process rights had been violated by the prosecution's 'chronic failure' to turn over evidence. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA.-MARCH 12, 2015: Paul Wilson, left, who's wife Christy Wilson was murdered, hugs Bethany Webb, who's sister Laura Webb was also murdered, after addressing the media regarding Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals' removing the district attorney's office from handling the case against Scott Dekraai, who killed eight people at a Seal Beach hair salon in 2011 but said the assailant will still face the death penalty, at Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana Thursday, March 12, 2015. Reacting to the ruling, Paul Wilson said: 'I'm embarrassed and disgusted. I hope that [Dist Atty.] Tony Raukaukas and his office are held accountable for this. Today I blame them.' 'Tony Raukaukas is like the captain of the Costa Concordia. He jumped ship before it sank,' Wilson said. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)
Shooting suspect Scott Dekraai looks at his attorney, Robert Curtis while Dekraai makes his first appearance in Orange County Superior Court for the murder rampage at the Meritage Salon in Seal Beach. Dekraai faces eight felony counts of special circumstances first degree murder, one felony county of attempted murder and special circumstances sentencing enhancement for multiple murders October 14, 2011 (Photo by Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - MARCH 18: Judge Thomas Goethals listens to arguements during a motion hearing in the trial of Scott Dekraai , who is accused of killing eight people in a Seal Beach beauty salon, on March 18, 2014 in Santa Ana, California. The hearing is underway to address the public defender's allegations of a widespread, unconstitutional jailhouse informant program that he feels affects the case of his defendant. (Photo by Mark Boster-Pool/Getty Images)
SEAL BEACH,CALIFORNIA, OCTOBER 13, 2011:Mourners stop by to pay their respects at the door of Salon Meritage in Seal Beach on the morning after eight people were shot to death and a ninth wounded by suspected gunman Scott Dekraai October 13, 2011 (Photo by Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Seal Beach resident Sue Dunbar is shaken and tearful during her first visit to the memorial at Salon Meritage October 21, 2011. The shooting rampage last week by accused killer Scott Dekraai left eight people dead and one wounded (Photo by Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Seal Beach Police corporal Mary Martinez, right, who responded the day of the shooting hugs Veronica Wilson,left, a dispatcher with the Seal Beach Police as the Salon Meritage reopens with new owner Irma Acosta in Seal Beach, Ca. on November 18, 2012. More than a year ago eight people were killed by suspected gunman Scott Dekraai. The owner at the time of the shootings was Sandi Fanin and her husband Randy who was killed. Fanin asked Acousta to reopen the salon. (Photo by Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - MARCH 18: Assistant Orange County Distrct Attorney Dan Wagner argues his case during a motion hearing in the trial of Scott Dekraai, who is accused of killing eight people in a Seal Beach beauty salon, on March 18, 2014 in Santa Ana, California. The hearing is underway to address the public defender's allegations of a widespread, unconstitutional jailhouse informant program that he feels affects the case of his defendant. (Photo by Mark Boster-Pool/Getty Images)
Three days after the shooting at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is visibly shaken and emotional, holding back tears while detailing the murder charges against shooting suspect Scott Dekraai October 14, 2011 (Photo by Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Craig Burke, left, Butch Fournier, brothers of Seal Beach Salon shooting victim Michelle Fournier, try to hold their emotions together while addressing the media after alleged Seal Beach mass murderer Scott Evans Dekraai pleaded not guilty during his arraignment at Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Seal Beach residents, (CQ'd) David Allister Stewart Maxwell and Ina Garner watch the press conference being held at the Seal Beach Pier on the day after eight people were shot to death and a ninth wounded at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach by suspected gunman Scott Dekraai October 13, 2011. The quiet little beach town of Seal Beach was rocked by the mass murder and many citizens are consoling each other with flowers and hugs (Photo by Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Dekraai was locked in a custody battle with his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, when he walked into Salon Meritage in the seaside community of Seal Beach carrying three guns and opened fire as their son waited to be picked up from school.

Fournier was killed in the shop along with six others. Outside, Dekraai fatally shot 64-year-old David Caouette, who was sitting in his sport utility vehicle. One person was wounded in the attack.

Dekraai was arrested blocks from the bloody scene in a community southeast of Los Angeles known by locals as “Mayberry by the Sea” for its bucolic, small-town ambiance.

Dekraai pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder in May 2014, making him eligible for the death penalty, but the judge took the case away from Orange County prosecutors the following year over accusations that a jailhouse informant was improperly used to wring a confession from Dekraai.

The California Attorney General’s office has handled the prosecution since then.

The Orange County District Attorney's Office said in a written statement it had "fought for the death penalty because it is hard to fathom how anyone who has heard Dekraai’s chilling recorded confession immediately following his arrest would think that this evil person should get anything less than the death penalty."

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Steve Orlofsky and Cynthia Osterman)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.