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Accused Seal Beach salon shooter Scott Dekraai pleads not guilty

November 29, 2011 | 12:10 pm

Scott

As teary-eyed friends and family of the victims looked on, the man accused in the most deadly shooting rampage in Orange County history pleaded not guilty Tuesday to killing eight customers and employees -- including his former wife -- at a Seal Beach hair salon.

Scott Dekraai, 42, is charged with eight counts of first-degree murder and a single count of attempted murder.

Dekraai, who was arrested only a short distance from the hair salon after the shooting, appeared alert and responsive as Orange County Superior Court Judge Erick L. Larsh spoke with him in court.

According to authorities, Dekraai, wearing a bulletproof vest and armed with several guns, walked into Salon Meritage on Oct. 12, shot his ex-wife Michelle Fournier, and then turned his gun on other salon clients and employees, including shop owner Randy Fanin. There was a single survivor.

Dekraai is also accused of fatally shooting a man in the parking lot outside the salon.

Dekraai had been involved in a bitter custody dispute with Fournier over their 8-year-old son.

Friends and family of the victims were silent during the hearing, but afterward they spoke about the difficulty of not having their loved ones around during the holidays.

Some wept, and others, such as Paul Wilson, the husband of shooting victim Christy Wilson, wore picture buttons in memory of lost family members.

Wilson told reporters that the news of the day was not Dekraai's plea but the "innocent lives that Scott took from us."

"It's a real tragedy and we have to deal with that every day going forward," he said.

Craig Burke, the brother of Michelle Fournier, came from Lake Havasu, Ariz. for the hearing. "It's going to be weird throughout the holidays without my sister," he said.

A preliminary hearing for Dekraai is scheduled for April 24.

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-- Nicole Santa Cruz

Photo:  Scott Dekraai in court in October.  Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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