It was the district attorney’s job to protect the rule of law rather than to ignore wrongdoing by law officers…

Orange County D.A. Office removed from Murder Case Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals ruled Thursday that prosecutors had shown a "chronic failure" to comply with orders to turn over evidence to the defense, and had so far deprived Dekraai — who has pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder — of his right to a fair penalty-phase trial, in Orange County, California. The legal wrangling involved how Dekraai came to occupy a jail cell next to a prolific jailhouse informant. Prosecutors and jailers said it was a coincidence, but Dekraai's attorney insisted it was part of a widespread operation to elicit incriminating remarks from defendants who were represented by lawyers, a violation of their rights. Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas' conflict of interest in the Dekraai case "is not imaginary," the judge wrote. "It apparently stems from his loyalty to his law enforcement partners at the expense of his other constitutional and statutory obligations." In hearings last year, the judge heard testimony from Orange County jailers Seth Tunstall and Ben Garcia, who belonged to the "special handling" unit that dealt with informants. Despite extensive questioning, however, neither made mention of secret jailhouse computer logs — called TRED records — with which both had extensive experience...The ruling marked a victory for Dekraai's defense attorneys, who said the district attorney's office had covered up wide-ranging misconduct in its zeal to put the killer on death row. On Oct. 12, 2011, Dekraai walked into the Salon Meritage and opened fire, killing his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, 48, along with salon owner Randy Fannin, 62; Lucia Kondas, 65; Michele Fast, 47; Victoria Buzzo, 54; Laura Elody, 46; Christy Wilson, 47; and David Caouette, 64, who was shot as he sat in his car outside.

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