Former Orange County deputy district attorney Erik S. Petersen has resigned
from his position in the wake of accusations that he provided false testimony
in connection to a murder case last year. Petersen, who was also a major
gang crimes lead prosecutor, has accepted a job in another state. His
resignation will be effective September 18th and will impact several cases in the OC criminal justice system.
Here is some additional information about Petersen’s resignation:
- The case in question involved mass murderer Scott Evans Dekraai, who shot
and killed his wife and seven other bystanders in a Seal Beach beauty
salon in 2011. It was the largest mass murder in Orange County history.
- During a hearing in the case concerning trial irregularities, Petersen
testified that informant evidence wasn’t released in another case
because Terri K. Flynn-Peister, then an assistant U.S. Attorney from the
U.S. Attorney’s Office, wanted the information withheld.
- Later, in proceedings concerning the misuse of informants by law enforcement,
Flynn-Peister testified that she did not tell Petersen to withhold the
information. The Judge overseeing the hearing agreed that the court did
not believe Petersen’s testimony, and stated that he unsuccessfully
tried to shift the blame for his breach.
- Petersen and the entire Orange County District Attorney’s office
were recused from Dekraai’s case for improperly withholding evidence
from the defense.
Petersen’s alleged conduct and resignation say a great deal about
the fact that prosecutors have the ability to abuse their power and disobey
the law. It also speaks volumes about the power we, as defense attorneys,
have to expose such injustices. For example, the lead county public defender
in the Dekraai case exposed a number of irregularities that impacted several
defendants’ sentences and their rights to fair trials.
Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. our attorneys have spent years working in the Orange County court system.
We know how prosecutors work to gain convictions, and we use this insight
to help clients facing criminal allegations. By having our team on their
side, our clients can rest assured they we will fight to protect their
rights at all points of the legal process.