Orange County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Jonathan Larson testified at a court hearing Thursday that he recalled continuous use of the Special Handling log, daily notes kept by jail deputies, during his year in the Special Handling unit, the same year there is an unexplained six-month gap in the log.
The Sheriff’s Department withheld documents from court disclosure, believing a section of the California penal code didn’t require the department to turn them over, retired Sheriff’s Lt. Catherine Irons testified Wednesday.
Two Orange County Sheriff’s deputies, Benjamin Garcia and William Grover, invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination at a court hearing Thursday rather than answer questions about their dealings with jailhouse informant records.
Sheriff Sandra Hutchens could be called to testify in a hearing later this month, which will explore whether her department attempted to cover up a jailhouse informants program by intentionally destroying or withholding key discovery documents related to the case of mass murderer Scott Evans Dekraai.
The judge handling the sentencing trial for mass murderer Scott Evans Dekraai said Friday that misuse of jailhouse informants by Orange County prosecutors and Sheriff’s deputies may cause him to consider “the nuclear option,” throwing out the death penalty in the case.
Orange County Sheriff’s deputies were openly and actively encouraged to cultivate jailhouse informants to aid prosecutors and the department covered its tracks as revelations about the program unfolded in court, according to a 72-page motion filed by Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders Thursday.