Almost six years ago, a man walked into a hair salon and killed his ex-wife and seven other people in Seal Beach, California. One of his victims was Laura Webb-Elody, whose mother, Hattie Stretz, was shot but survived. And for six years, Bethany Webb, sister of Laura, and daughter of Hattie, has been asking that the killer, Scott Dekraai, be given a life without parole sentence. Webb was not alone, many of the other victims’ family members also asked prosecutors to accept the plea deal Dekraai’s attorney offered, and put him away for life. But prosecutors insisted on a death penalty case, and the result, as Webb writes in an LA Times
op-ed, is that instead of bringing families “closure through the death penalty” they have “succeeded only in keeping old wounds open.”
The case has been plagued with misconduct involving jailhouse informants to the point that the presiding judge removed the Orange County district attorney’s office from the case and ordered the California attorney general’s office to handle it. But in spite of the fact that Webb and other victims’ family members again asked to let Dekraai plead guilty in exchange for a life without parole sentence, the state is also pursuing the death penalty.
Prosecutors often cite victims’ family members as justification for seeking the death penalty in murder cases, but as Webb eloquently states, “They are not doing this for my family; they are doing this to my family.”
You can read more about Bethany Webb and her opposition to the death penalty in this profile we ran in the February 2016 issue of the Focus.