Seal Beach shooting: Judge orders release of grand jury testimony
An Orange County judge on Friday ordered the release of portions of grand jury testimony in the case against a former tugboat crewman accused of fatally shooting eight people in a two-minute burst of violence last October at a Seal Beach hair salon.
Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Goethals told attorneys for accused killer Scott Dekraai that releasing some of the grand jury testimony wouldn’t “deny your client a fair trial.”
Portions of the transcript, however, will remain sealed when the testimony is released next month, Goethals ordered. He described that material, which will be reviewed by prosecutors and defense attorneys in the coming days, as being highly sensitive.
“Especially since he’s the only living parent of a very young son,” the judge added.
Dekraai, 42, is charged with eight counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances and a single count of attempted murder in the October shooting at the Salon Meritage. Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty.
Among those killed was his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier. Authorities say that Dekraai -– armed with three guns, extra ammunition and wearing a bulletproof vest -- walked into the salon and shot customers and employees alike.
As he walked out of the salon, authorities say Dekraai randomly shot and killed a man sitting in his Range Rover in the shopping center parking lot.
In an interview after his arrest, Dekraai told investigators that he first drove to Bolsa Chica State Beach near his home in Huntington Beach, sat on the sand and "pondered shooting" his ex-wife. He also told police, "I know what I did," according to the statements.
In an affidavit, Dekraai told investigators that he argued with Fournier in a telephone conversation that morning over custody issues involving their son. Dekraai said his son would come home with bruises on his body after staying with Fournier and told police that he had photographed his son's injuries.
After the phone conversation, Dekraai allegedly told authorities he went to his Huntington Beach home, armed himself and then drove to the beach to consider his next move. According to the affidavit, he told police he then headed to the salon, a 10-minute drive.
When he arrived, Dekraai shot and killed a woman he called "Christy," later identified as Christy Wilson, 47, another salon employee and a friend of Fournier's, according to the affidavit. Dekraai reportedly told police that she had recently testified against him in the custody dispute.
Randy Fannin, the salon owner, was shot at the front door as he approached, armed with scissors, Dekraai said.
Dekraai told police he began shooting people at random inside the salon and thought he "shot an additional four to five" before leaving, authorities said. He saw those people as "collateral damage," according to the affidavit. One victim was seriously wounded but survived the rampage.
Police said they seized seven guns in Dekraai's garage in addition to the three found in his truck.
Dekraai appeared briefly in court Friday, wearing black-rimmed glasses and jail scrubs.
"We're looking forward to getting the evidence we put in front of the grand jury in front of the trial jury," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Dan Wagner.
-- Nicole Santa Cruz and Steve Marble
Photo: A memorial outside the Salon Meritage in the days after the Seal Beach shooting in October. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times.