10 Recent or Looming OC Death Penalty Cases
Former Govs. Gray Davis, Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian attended a news conference in LA last week to support putting an initiative before voters in November that would end lengthy delays in California executions. Death-penalty opponents say the proposal to shorten the length of the appeals process and require death-row inmates to share cells with other inmates is deeply flawed and will only increase litigation and costs. But the whole idea got us to wondering who might be in line to die from Orange County.
Turns out there are currently around 60 inmates who have been sent to death row by Orange County judges and are still among the living, which are far too many to list here. So, instead, we present 10 recent or looming Orange County death penalty cases.
1) Hilbert Pineil Thomas
A jury in Santa Ana earlier this month found the Garden Grove 42-year-old guilty of the execution-style fatal shootings of salesman Matthew Francis Scott and longtime secretary Elizabeth Ann Palmer in their Golden Sun Homes business office in Stanton the morning of Feb. 2, 2009. Thomas apparently wanted Palmer's Lexus for his fledgling real estate sales career. The death penalty phase of the trial in scheduled to begin today in Orange County Superior Court Judge William Froeberg's courtroom.
2) Jason Michael Balcom
Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno earlier this month upheld a jury's death penalty recommendation for 43-year-old Balcom, who raped and fatally stabbed a pregnant newlywed in her Costa Mesa apartment 25 years ago. He was serving a 50-year prison sentence in Michigan for another rape when he was linked by DNA to the July 18, 1988, slaying of Malinda Gibbons. A previous jury in Santa Ana deadlocked when it came to death for Balcom, leading to a re-trial in Briseno's courtroom last year that also had a jury recommending the ultimate punishment.
3) Scott Evans DeKraai
A pre-trial hearing is scheduled Feb. 28 and a jury trial is currently slated to begin March 24 for the Huntington Beach 45-year-old accused of being the worst mass killer in Orange County history. At Salon Meritage in Seal Beach on Oct. 12, 2011, DeKraai allegedly killed (and supposedly confessed to killing) his ex-wife Michelle Marie Fournier, 48, Los Alamitos; and Victoria Ann Buzzo, 54, Laguna Beach; Laura Lee Elody, 46, Huntington Beach; Randy Lee Fannin, 62, Murrieta; Michele Daschbach Fast, 47, Seal Beach; Lucia Bernice Kondas, 65, Huntington Beach; Christy Lynn Wilson, 47, Lakewood; and David Caouette, 64, Seal Beach. Harriet Stretz, 73, Los Alamitos, survived being shot but she lost her daughter, salon employee Elody, who was doing her mother's hair.