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O.C. prosecutors likely to have sought death penalty for Dorner

February 14, 2013|From the Los Angeles Times

Orange County prosecutors had prepared but not filed murder charges against Christopher Dorner for the deaths of the Irvine couple believed to be the first victims in his alleged rampage, the district attorney's said Thursday.

Prosecutors said they probably would have sought the death penalty for the slaying of Monica Quan and her fiance Keith Lawrence.

Dorner's alleged crime spree prompted a massive, multi-agency manhunt that came to a close Tuesday after a Big Bear-area cabin in which Dorner was holed up burned to the ground during a shootout. A charred body found inside was positively identified as Dorner on Thursday. 

Graphic: Who they were: Victims in the Dorner case

Orange County prosecutors said they gathered "extensive evidence," including Dorner's social networking pages, residences and cellphones, and executed "multiple search warrants." An arrest warrant was signed Feb. 6.

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Two days later, O.C. prosecutors prepared a criminal complaint against Dorner, but planned to wait to file the documents until Dorner was taken into custody "in the interest of public safety, and for tactical and investigative purposes," a statement from the district attorney's office said.

"This decision was reviewed and discussed daily and the OCDA was prepared to file a case against the defendant on a moment's notice should he have been apprehended or new developments in the case deemed it appropriate," the office said.

TIMELINE: Manhunt for ex-LAPD officer

The complaint included two felony counts of murder, with special allegations of lying in wait and committing multiple murders, and a sentencing enhancement for the alleged personal discharge of a firearm causing death, officials said.

Had he been tried and convicted in the Irvine case, the minimum sentence would have been life in prison without parole, but the district attorney's office said it would have likely sought the death penalty.

The office noted that the police investigation and legal review of Dorner's alleged crimes were continuing.

FULL COVERAGE: Sweeping manhunt for ex-cop

Dorner was suspected in a string of killings that began Feb. 3 with the deaths of Quan, a Cal State Fullerton assistant basketball coach, and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, a USC public safety officer. Quan was the daughter of a retired LAPD official who represented Dorner at a disciplinary hearing that led to Dorner's firing.

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