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Sacramento D.A. Assails U.S. for Unabomber Deal

Law: Prosecutor says plea bargain prevents California from trying Theodore Kaczynski on murder charges.

January 28, 1998|MARK GLADSTONE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SACRAMENTO — Taking a swipe at the U.S. Justice Department for negotiating with the Unabomber, Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Jan Scully said Tuesday she cannot prosecute Theodore Kaczynski on state murder charges, though she would like to.

After last week's plea bargain between Kaczynski and the federal government, state and local authorities said it was unlikely under California law that state charges could be pursued, but wanted time to research the matter.

On Tuesday, Scully said her analysis showed that a person convicted in another jurisdiction cannot be prosecuted for the same crimes in California.

The plea bargain, in which Kaczynski pleaded guilty to a 10-count indictment in Sacramento and a three-count indictment in New Jersey, saves him from the death penalty. He faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison when he is sentenced May 15.

Kaczynski, 55, also admitted responsibility for 11 other bombings. Altogether, three people died--two in Sacramento--and 29 were injured over 18 years in bombing attacks linked to the Unabomber.

But Scully said Tuesday that Kaczynski's fate should have been determined by the jury, which had been picked but not seated.

"One who kills with such malice, planning and cold premeditation should face a jury to determine the penalty he should suffer," Scully said.

Scully's sentiments reflect those of Gov. Pete Wilson, who last week said he was "deeply disturbed" by the government's decision to end the case with a plea bargain.

The district attorney also complained about "Washington decision makers" in the Justice Department, saying "this case has been directed from Washington without any consultation with local or state agencies."

The prosecutor downplayed Kaczynski's diagnosed condition as a paranoid schizophrenic, saying "a person can be mentally ill yet cunning, manipulative."

Lead federal prosecutor Robert J. Cleary was unavailable for comment, but his spokeswoman noted that even when President Clinton had indicated a similar view--that the case should go to the jury--federal prosecutors did not respond.

In federal court in Sacramento, Kaczynski faced murder-by-bombing charges in the deaths of two men and other charges related to seriously injuring two academicians.

In New Jersey, Kaczynski faced federal charges in the slaying of an advertising executive. New Jersey state authorities said last week that they would not pursue separate charges against Kaczynski.

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