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D.A. to seek death penalty in killings of homeless men, two others

O.C. prosecutor says former Marine Itzcoatl Ocampo deserves capital punishment because of the planning involved in the deaths and the violence inflicted on the victims.

May 22, 2012|By Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times
  • Prosecutors say that Itzcoatl Ocampo set a personal goal of 16 slayings and targeted the homeless because they were “available and vulnerable.”
Prosecutors say that Itzcoatl Ocampo set a personal goal of 16 slayings… (Anaheim Police Department )

Hours after accused serial killer Itzcoatl Ocampo allegedly stabbed a homeless man to death in an Anaheim parking lot, he was interviewed by a veteran detective.

When Ocampo was asked what sort of consequences he deserved, the 23-year-old answered without hesitation: the death penalty — lethal injection — or "whatever is quickest," the detective, Daron Wyatt, later told a grand jury panel.

On Monday, Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said his office had come to the same conclusion and announced that he would seek the death penalty against the former Marine. Rackauckas said Ocampo deserved the ultimate punishment for what he has called a "serial thrill-kill" rampage that left six people dead, including four homeless men and a woman and her son.

For months, authorities said, Ocampo went undetected as a string of killings occurred in north Orange County, starting with the stabbing death of a childhood friend and his mother in their Yorba Linda home and continuing on the streets with the slaying of four homeless men.

Prosecutors say that Ocampo set a personal goal of 16 slayings and targeted the homeless because they were "available and vulnerable."

"He, as a former military-type person, thought of it as a mission," said Susan Price, the senior deputy district attorney who is prosecuting the case.

Price said the case is fit for the death penalty for a variety of reasons, including the planning that went into each of the killings and the violence inflicted on the victims, some of whom were stabbed as many as 60 times.

"The brutality of the stabbings really stands out in my mind," Price said. "I've been doing this 13 years and I've never even heard of a stabbing that is worse than this."

On Friday, a committee met to evaluate the case and recommended the death penalty. By Monday morning, Rackauckas affirmed the recommendation with the announcement.

"None of the victims did anything to Mr. Ocampo," said Susan Kang Schroeder, the district attorney's chief of staff.

Ocampo's trial is set for Sept. 10.

nicole.santacruz@latimes.com

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