An Orange County deputy district attorney accused of false testimony last year during a hearing in the murder case against Scott Evans Dekraai has resigned, court records show.
Erik S. Petersen — who was a lead prosecutor for District Attorney Tony Rackauckas on major gang cases — filed a declaration last week stating that he won’t be available to testify in a case because he has resigned effective Sept. 18 and has accepted a job in another state.
The declaration was in response to a request from a defense attorney in a murder case for Petersen’s testimony in October. The defendant was recently convicted, but Superior Court Richard M. King is hearing defense testimony about possible trial irregularities.
This is not the only case that could be complicated by Petersen’s departure. He was also a prosecutor in multiple cases arising from the Black Flag and Smokin’ Aces operations in recent years against Mexican Mafia members operating in Orange County.
King reportedly scheduled a hearing Wednesday about seeking advance testimony from Petersen. Petersen could not be reached for comment today.
During the hearing in the case of mass murderer Scott Evans Dekraai, who in 2011 shot to death his ex-wife and seven others in a Seal Beach beauty salon, Petersen testified that informant evidence wasn’t released to a defendant in another case because the U.S. Attorney’s Office didn’t want the information disclosed.
Specifically, Petersen testified that then-assistant U.S. attorney Terri K. Flynn-Peister — now an Orange County Superior Court Judge — wanted the information withheld.
But Flynn-Peister testified before Superior Court Thomas M. Goethals in June 2014 that never occurred — in one of the more dramatic moments in the months of hearing sessions over the law enforcement misuse of informants.
In his March ruling halting Rackauckas’ entire office from the prosecution of Dekraai, Goethals specifically said the court did not believe Petersen’s testimony. , adding:
“[Petersen] unsuccessfully tried to shift responsibility for a serious breach in another case to the shoulders of a former federal prosecutor,” Goethals said.
Petersen’s resignation is the latest fallout from the Dekraai case, in which Scott Sanders, the defendant’s lead county public defender, has exposed a web of irregularities — which already have altered the sentences of more than a half-dozen defendants.
The state Attorney General’s Office is set to continue prosecuting Dekraai, but that decision is on appeal.
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