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Mass slaying's effect on Seal Beach to figure in death penalty bid

Prosecutors say the emotional toll on the community from the beauty salon rampage that left eight dead is one reason why Scott Dekraai should be executed.

May 03, 2012|By Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times
  • Scott Dekraai, right, appears in court with Deputy Public Defender Scott Sanders last month.
Scott Dekraai, right, appears in court with Deputy Public Defender Scott… (Mark Rightmire, Associated…)

A shooting rampage that left eight people dead at a Seal Beach beauty salon last year was so emotionally wrenching to residents in the small beach town that prosecutors say they'll use that as part of their argument that the accused killer deserves the death penalty.

In court papers filed this week, prosecutors said that if former tugboat crewman Scott Dekraai is convicted in the slayings, they will present victim impact evidence on behalf of the entire city to show that the midday shooting had a lasting effect on the tight-knit community.

Assistant Dist. Atty. Dan Wagner said in court filings that Dekraai, 42, exhibited a "high degree of cruelty, viciousness and callousness," when he allegedly walked into Salon Meritage and shot and killed his ex-wife and seven others. He is also accused of wounding a ninth person.

Dekraai has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

Wagner said in the document that the victims were "particularly vulnerable" when they were shot "execution-style" at close range. The shooting, the prosecutor said, was carried out with "planning, sophistication and professionalism" by Dekraai, who wore a bulletproof vest during the rampage.

Wagner said in the document that he would also argue that the harm done by the crimes affected not only victims' families but also survivors, witnesses (including first responders) and the entire community.

The crime was so horrendous that the effect on the city is almost a no-brainer, said Mayor Mike Levitt.

"I would think that in any mass killing, when you have that large a number of victims, you're going to have an impact on the community," he said.

Dekraai has a history of alleged criminal activity involving the "use or attempted use of force or violence," the prosecutor said.

He cited nine incidents involving Dekraai, including one in 1995 in which he allegedly slammed his girlfriend's head against a car, causing a concussion.

One of the incidents involved Michelle Fournier, his ex-wife. In 2004, Dekraai allegedly "waved a gun at his wife and threatened to kill her if she did not leave the house," according to the document.

Fournier, 48, was the first one killed in the 10-minute salon shooting.

nicole.santacruz@latimes.com

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