An Orange County Superior Court Judge ruled Friday the misuse of jail informants made it impossible for mass killer Scott Dekraai to get a fair death penalty hearing in the murders of eight people at a Seal Beach salon in 2011.
Dekraai, left, will automatically face a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Judge Thomas Goethals said Constitutional and procedural violations by the Orange County District Attorney's Office and the Orange County Sheriff's Department could not be ignored, and said it was, "a fact," that deputies lied in court while prosecutors were silent.
The decision comes more than three years after Dekraai's public defender, Scott Sanders, began pursuing information that a jail informant had been improperly used by prosecutors and deputies in an attempt to gain a tactical advantage in the death penalty portion of Dekraai's case.
Goethals said the prosecution was either unwilling or unable to provide complete information that would ensure Dekraai received a fair [penalty phase] trial.
Dekraai pleaded guilty in 2014 to murdering Laura Elody, Michelle Fournier, Lucia Kondas, Randy Fannin, Victoria Buzzo, David Couette, Michele Daschbach, and Christy Wilson at Salon Meritage following a dispute with his ex-wife, Fournier.
Goethals removed the Orange County District Attorney's Office from the case in 2015, citing the misuse of informants -- a decision later upheld by a state appellate court.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office said in a statement it was disappointed in the ruling:
The Orange County Sheriff's Department released this statement: