In a rare deviation from the controversial sentencing policies of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, prosecutors cemented a plea deal Monday expected to send a violent predator to prison for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole for the murders of 6-year-old Jeffrey Vargo of Anaheim Hills and another boy.
During a hearing in Pomona Courthouse South, Kenneth Kasten Rasmuson, 59, sat shackled at the waist next to his defense attorney and quietly pleaded no contest to two counts of murder with the special circumstance of multiple slayings.
A judge is expected to sentence Rasmuson to life in prison without parole during another hearing on April 27. He was accused of abducting Jeffrey near his home in 1981 and killing him in Agoura Hills. The second boy, 6-year-old Miguel Antero, was kidnapped in 1986 and his body was found dumped in an Agoura Hills canyon.
Deal was in the works
Los Angeles County interim Chief Deputy District Attorney Joseph Iniguez said in court Monday the plea deal had been in the works for a considerable time. However, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, who last week filed a motion to wrestle away the case from Gascon, disputed that claim.
Spitzer said that on Jan. 8, Gascon filed a motion to dismiss special circumstance enhancements in the case that had been filed by former Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey.
“The Los Angeles County district attorney was misleading in saying that a deal was in the works for a long period of time,” Spitzer said.
Spitzer said he he decided to intervene in the case — charging Rasmuson with murder with special circumstances and filing a motion to take the case away from Gascón — after reading a Southern California News Group article last month in which Jeffrey’s parents, Bob and Connie Vargo, expressed fears that justice would not be served.
“The Los Angeles County district attorney pleaded no contest today,” Spitzer said, theorizing his motion backed Gascon into a corner. “We believe we had leverage. This shouldn’t have to happen in Los Angeles County.”
Gascon defends his handling
Gascón defended his handling of the case and attacked Spitzer’s attempt to wrestle away the prosecution.
“This was a heinous offense and this individual will not share the sidewalk with the rest of us,” Gascón said in a statement. “The defendant was always facing life in prison, making the rhetoric from tough-on-crime voices incredibly dangerous and entirely removed from reality.
“Splitting this case up or seeking the death penalty in a state with a moratorium would have dragged the victims through decades of legal proceedings for an execution that is exceedingly unlikely to be imposed. Spending exorbitant amounts on a death penalty prosecution that is ultimately just for show would force the families of these victims to relive their trauma through decades of litigation. That’s not in the interests of the victims, nor is it in the interests of the public.”
Spitzer signaled his intent to seek the death penalty, if he was granted jurisdiction in the case, …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment