Mass Murderer Scott Dekraai: “I’m sorry. I’m very, very sorry”

Scott Dekraai, who murdered eight people in Seal Beach in 2011, sits in a courtroom at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana during his trial on Monday, June 5, 2017. JEFF ANTENORE, Voice of OC Contributing Photographer

Orange County’s worst mass murderer Scott Evans Dekraai, who shot and killed eight people at a Seal Beach beauty salon in 2011, publicly apologized Thursday to the sister of one of his victims.

Bethany Webb, whose sister Laura Elody Webb was a stylist at the Salon Meritage, stood in the courtroom, looked directly at Dekraai and wrung her hands as she criticized him for calling her sister and other victims “collateral damage” in police interviews after the shooting.

“You said they were collateral damage, that they were somehow insignificant,” said Webb.

“I’m sorry. I’m very, very sorry,” said Dekraai from his seat at the defense table before he was told by Judge Thomas Goethals that it wasn’t his time to speak. It was the first time Dekraai has publicly apologized for the murders.

His apology occurred at an ongoing hearing where Goethals is trying to determine whether or not the Sheriff’s Department destroyed or tried to hide documents subpoenaed by defense attorneys in 2013.

Although Dekraai pled guilty in 2014, his sentencing has been delayed by allegations of unconstitutional use of jailhouse informants and delays in the disclosure of documents. The outcome of this hearing, which began late last month, could affect whether or not Goethals decides Dekraai’s rights were so egregiously violated that he will throw out the death penalty as a sentencing option.

The hearing has been punctuated by the emotional testimonies of families of victims, some who have come day after day to listen to hours of testimony by Sheriff’s officials.

Webb, whose mother was also shot by Dekraai but survived the attack, said she has often dreamed of her sister’s death. But she said her family does not believe in the death penalty.

“My family does not believe you can make anything right by condoning, by saying there’s anything humanly good about killing somebody other than [for] self-defense,” Webb said.

Paul Wilson, whose wife Christy was a stylist at the salon when she was gunned down by Dekraai, was critical of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, which headed prosecution of Dekraai before Goethals recused the entire office from the case in 2015.

“The people we trusted let us down – Tony Rackauckas,  Dan Wagner, Scott Simmons, they failed us,” Wilson said.

Goethals removed the DA’s office as prosecutors of the case because of repeated failures to turn over evidence.

Known as the jailhouse snitch scandal, disclosures of misuse of informants has led to overturned convictions and reduced sentencing in at least six other murder or serious criminal cases unrelated to Dekraai.

He also blasted an Orange County Grand Jury report that was released Tuesday, called “The Myth of the Orange County Jail Informant Program,” which said that while there is legal use of informants in county jails, there’s no systemic misuse of informants and any misconduct is largely confined to “a few rogue deputies.”

The Grand Jury called Goethals’ hearing a “witch hunt for agency corruption” that has led to unnecessary delays in the case.

“What a slap in the face to each one of these families,” Wilson said of the Grand Jury report.

“I ask every day why, why would someone want to hurt and devastate so many families…and then I come into this courtroom and look right over there…that coward,” said Wilson, pointing at Dekraai who sat just a few feet away. “I hope you will end this for us, especially with those of us who struggle with not being able to make it to court every day.”

The hearing, which will determine whether or not there is a sentencing trial, may go on for a few more weeks, as Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders, Dekraai’s lawyer, is likely to call at least four more witnesses, including Sheriff Sandra Hutchens. Hutchens may, depending on her schedule, testify the week of June 26 or the week of July 3.

So far 15 Sheriff’s Department officials have testified in the hearing, seven who have invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in order to avoid testifying. Some have been granted immunity and required to testify, including Lieutenant Martin Ramirez, who testified Thursday.

The hearing continues on June 26.

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

  • Bob Brock

    Waiting for the headline, “Rackauckas to the voters, taxpayers and crime survivors: “I’m sorry. I’m very, very sorry.”

  • Bruce Durgess

    It’s weird that the officer sitting behind Dekraai looks like the scary one with that Mohawk haircut.

    • LFOldTimer

      Cops aren’t what they used to be, Bruce. I really liked the cops in the old days. No swat team needed. A hostage inside a home? A couple patrol cops would bust down the front door and drag the bad guy out feet first. No need to clear it through the supervising Sergeant either. Just do it to protect and serve. No big pensions either. Cops were very middle class – the majority being lower middle class. They did it because they loved to serve. I had tremendous respect for that class of cop. The ones today do it to get rich – and most of them couldn’t shine the boots of the cops I knew back in the day, as far as skill is concerned. And the cops I knew would rarely go for the hog to blow somebody away. 19 times out of 20 they’d talk the suspect into surrendering. Their best weapon were their mouths. Today the average cop goes straight for the hog when he finds himself in a situation. Why? Because he or she gets skeered. Oh, and they can’t blow their noses today unless they get their Sergeant’s approval first. Very sad.

      The entire system has gone to he*l in a hand basket.

  • verifiedsane

    Scott Dekraai: “I’m sorry. I’m very, very sorry” Does it really matter! He is admittedly guilty of eight horrible murders where at some point he’ll need to answer to a much higher authority…I have great confidence that will not go so well for him…eternity is a very long time…

    The issue now is a Sheriff’s and DA’s office that believes it’s OK to illegally lie and cheat even with a lay down case such as this. I would be amazed beyond belief if Dekraai got the death penalty @ this juncture, let along that it would be ever carried out. This man deserves no more press or attention. The victims and their loved ones deserve so much more. Send him to prison for the rest of his life and allow these families to begin healing the best they can from these untenable circumstances.

    The issue we have to grapple with today is the illegal acts and institutionalized corruption of county government and their elected subordinates. When we allow those in positions with highest level of public trust and power to trample all over our Constitution rights and protections…then it isn’t about Dekraai anymore, it’s about each and every citizen.

    It is shameful what has happened to our judicial system. These shameful self serving Public Servants we entrust with our most treasured rights as Americans must be held fully accountable from top to down. If that does not happen, then we no longer have rights as citizens. We will in the truest sense be deemed slaves to a criminal government of politicized masters that will and can rule by decree; not by the law or the consent of the people.

  • LFOldTimer

    Lucas is correct. Even if Dekraai was sentenced to death row he would live a long life and die of natural causes. And it would cost the taxpayers many many millions of dollars to sustain him and pay for his death row attorneys who would make millions off his case.

    Actually, living on death row is a MUCH better life than living in the general population in a prison. The worst part of being in prison is living amongst other inmates. On death row the inmates are segregated and don’t have communal living quarters. Plus, they get TV, internet, their favorite books, better food than is fed to the general population, individual sleeping quarters, etc… Heck, they’re even allowed conjugal visits. What’s not to love about that?

    Given a choice most prisoners would probably prefer death row over life in prison without the possibility of parole in the general population.

    Putting Dekraai in the general population for the rest of his life is the worst thing that could happen to him.

    The only reason OCSD and the DA pushed for the death penalty is because it would result in a trophy to hang on the wall and a feather in their caps. It had nothing to do with hurting Dekraai. They were actually doing him a favor by pushing for the mythical death penalty.

    Dekraai is a scumbag. But we don’t pay sworn officials in jobs of public trust $300,000 or more a year to be scumbags with him. We expect integrity and honesty from those sworn under oath to uphold the laws and defend the US Constitution. And we got the exact opposite. Heads should roll. But the system is so corrupted and rotted to the core that I doubt it will ever happen. They might make an example out of some low level grunt with a slap on the hand. They can’t punish him too severely since he would spill his guts and implicate many others. The the big fish will swim quietly away, as they are immune to our laws.

    Btw, the reason Lieutenant Irons was so candid and forthcoming and honest during her testimony is because she’s retired from OCSD and Hutchens can’t touch her. I hope everyone understands that.

  • Paul Lucas

    I dont think the death penalty is even remotely possible to carry out. The level of cheating done by the DA and OCSD will be the crux of endless appeals to the day he dies of natural causes like old Age. The investigation into the DA and OCSD should be carried out to the end and those culpable be punished. Dekrai would be punished more harshly with life without parole then he would be if he got the death penalty.

  • LagunaTri

    EIGHT people. This guy doesn’t deserve to take another breath. And thanks to the OC Sheriff and all of us whose taxes will ensure he will live out his days with three meals, a bed, books, workouts and TV. This was the last case they needed a snitch on. The only good that’s come out of the trial is that we now know how truly corrupt the Sheriff’s and DA’s offices are. If I were a family member of one of Dekraai’s victims or a family member of a victim of any snitch who’s cut a deal, I’d be livid. Shame on the people who are supposed to protect us. I know things aren’t always simple, there are many shades of gray, but I don’t know how these people look themselves in the mirror every day. Let alone take hard-earned taxpayer-funded paychecks.

    • LFOldTimer

      Thanks to the OC Sheriff? Are you joking? Hutchens has caused immense prolonged pain for all the families of the victims by forcing the courts to drag this out. The evidence shows that the Sheriff’s Department routinely violated our laws and our US Constitution. Due to their violations multiple heinous violent convicted criminals got new trials (at taxpayer’s expense), some got slap-on-the-hand plea deals and some even walked out of prison. Yet Hutchens has NOT taken any responsibility for what her Department has done – and she’s the top LE official in Orange County sworn under oath to uphold the laws and defend the US Constitution. She should be SHAMED, not thanked!!!

      • verifiedsane

        From reading LagunaTri’s comment, I believe the use of “Thanks” was using opposition semantics, and was not intended as an actual thank you…

        • LFOldTimer

          You may be right.

          But even if Dekraai is sent to death row he’ll never see the end of a needle in the ghoul room. He’ll live a better quality life on death row than in the general population in communal living arrangements with Bubba and Big Jake. People have the wrong idea about death row. They BIGGEST MYTH is that in California imates are are put to death for their crimes. There are over 700 death row inmates and we won’t see another one turned to room temperature – other than through natural causes. It’s a huge waste of taxpayer money. If inmates were actually iced I’d be in favor of death row. My philosophy is that if you take a life through murder you pay for it with your own. But the snowflakes disagree and I’m outnumbered.

          • verifiedsane

            Of course you’re preaching to the choir and are presently out numbered…..This is the communist/socialist state of California after all…If this were a state like Texas this murderer would be nothing more than an obituary bad memory by now….

            It’s not exactly rocket science to forecast the direction our society is headed, as evidenced by the failures of oppressive Communist/Socialist states throughout history; people’s attitudes change pretty quickly when everything starts going to hell….it is not really a matter of if…it’s just a matter of when, and how much suffering the populous is willing to endure…

          • LFOldTimer

            There are a lot of similarities between socialism and fascism. The former oftentimes morphs into the latter. With all the crazy laws and exorbitant tax hikes coming out of Sacramento it’s obvious where California is headed. They want to saturate the state with indigents who are easily controlled. Right now a full THIRD (13.5 million) of California residents are on MediCal. lol. I’m not kidding. Google it. Toss in another 6 million Californians enrolled in the MediCare – nearly half the state are on straight up partially or fully government funded healthcare. Plus – there must be at least a couple million veterans getting free VA healthcare.

            I’m telling you, Verfied. The next time the market crashes we aren’t going to rebound. Not without California declaring bankruptcy and dissolving all the social contracts (pensions, welfare, healthcare, education, etc….) that have inundated us with massive amounts of debt and unfunded liabilities.

            No idea when all this happens. But it’s inevitable.

          • justanon

            Only an IGNORAMUS would think the elimination of the death penalty was a sign that our state is becoming a “oppressive Communist/Socialist state” as the death penalty is a marker of oppressive, autocratic and communist states.

            The USA should be ashamed of the company we keep in the use of executions. Some of our death penalty peers: China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and North Korea.

            Hardly a list of countries we’d should be emulating.

          • verifiedsane

            The anarchist and hate monger Diaper Boy is back….IGNORED as usual