LA County DA George Gascon's sentencing policies questioned by crime victims' families

Friday, December 18, 2020
LA County DA's policies on sentencing spark controversy
L.A. County District Attorney George Gascon is implementing sweeping reforms that are prompting outrage from some families of crime victims.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- More than three decades ago in Agoura Hills, Enid Antero's 6-year-old little brother was murdered. She relives that day often.

"That day he never made it home. He had been abducted, beaten, raped, sodomized and stabbed to death," Enid said.

Up until five years ago, Miguel Antero's brutal killing was a cold case.

A suspect is now in custody. But a new ruling from new L.A. County District Attorney George Gascon is affecting the case.

RELATED: Crime victims' families lash out at LA County DA George Gascon over new policies

L.A. County DA George Gascon's new policies are being criticized by former prosecutors and some family members of crime victims.

"Every case needs to be looked at individually," Enid said. "Justice needs to be delivered for these children. His way and his method that he's planning to use is not going to work for cases like ours."

After winning the election, Gascon ordered the end of cash bail, the death penalty and sentencing enhancements in L.A. County prosecutions.

That means Miguel's suspected killer won't face special circumstance charges that could potentially extend his sentence.

The directive does makes good on Gascon's promise to voters - enact sweeping reforms as soon as he's elected.

In a press conference Wednesday, defending his decision, Gascon responded to questions about extreme cases - like a recent double murder out of Lancaster.

Maurice Jewel Taylor Sr. is accused of decapitating his two oldest children and forcing his younger children to look at their bodies.

RELATED: LA County DA George Gascon's plan to reduce sentences sparks concern from his own prosecutors

There is new backlash to some of the changes being made by new L.A. County District Attorney George Gascon.

The detective assigned to the grisly murder says Gascon's decision to not include special circumstance charges could shorten Taylor's sentence.

"In this particular case, if this person is found guilty of the crimes that he's being accused, he would be in prison for more than half a century," Gascon said. "What would be the utility to take somebody that is probably going to spend the rest of his life in prison, to continue to add years and waste taxpayers' money in additional litigation?"

A Democratic lawmaker is also chiming in Gascon's blanket decision.

Democratic State Assemblymember Richard Bloom says removing special circumstances like hate crime felony enhancers is "a major mistake."

According to deputy district attorneys who work for Gascon, the DA's decision will not be reversed.