Another tragedy brought to you from the divorce courts of America. If divorce and custody issues were handled from the perspective of parental rights to children, instead of best interest, these kinds of events would be fewer, since there would be less opportunity for enmity to escalate.
(Reuters) – A man California prosecutors say shot his ex-wife and seven other people to death in a Seal Beach hair salon in revenge over a child custody dispute was charged on Friday with first degree murder in their deaths.
Scott Evans Dekraai, 42, who is accused of carrying out the largest mass murder in the history of Orange County, was also charged with a single count of attempted murder, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told a news conference in Santa Ana.
The lone survivor of Wednesday’s shooting rampage at Salon Meritage, 73-year-old Harriet Stretz, remains in critical condition at a hospital in nearby Long Beach.
An emotional Rackauckas announced he would seek the death penalty against Dekraai, who he said was targeting former wife Michelle Fournier, a stylist at Salon Meritage, in the shooting rampage.
“There are some crimes that are so depraved, so callous, so malignant, that there is only one punishment that will fit the crime,” Rackauckas said. “When a person in a case such as this goes on a rampage and kills innocent people in an indiscriminate bloody massacre, I will seek the death penalty.”
Dekraai made an initial court appearance on Friday afternoon, wearing a yellow Orange County Jail jumpsuit and handcuffs and shackled at the waist as he sat in a caged area.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Erick Larsh agreed to a request by Dekraai’s lawyer, Robert Curtis, to postpone the arraignment until November 28 so Curtis can assemble a defense team.
Curtis also asked the judge to order to ensure that Dekraai was given his medications, including two anti-psychotic drugs. Larsh said he could only order jail doctors to “do what is appropriate” for Dekraai’s medical conditions.
‘I HATE YOU!’
As Dekraai was being taken out of court, a woman in the audience shouted “I hate you! I hate you!” toward his back. Another man clutched a picture to his chest.
Prosecutors say Dekraai, who divorced Fournier, 48, in 2007 and was still battling her in court over custody of their young son, wanted revenge when he stormed into Salon Meritage and began shooting.
The former couple had been in court over the child custody issues on Tuesday and Rackauckas said the hearing apparently “didn’t go very well” for Dekraai. He said Dekraai and Fournier had argued over the phone on the morning of the rampage.
“We believe that the defendant committed this unimaginable act of violence because he wanted to kill his ex-wife over a custody dispute over their 8-year-old son,” Rackauckas said. “He was willing to end any life in his path, and he did.”