FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Case # 18HF0073
Date: February 2, 2018
REMARKS BY DISTRICT ATTORNEY TONY RACKAUCKAS
SANTA ANA, Calif. – Thank you for joining us this morning. As I stated at the last press conference, we will not be commenting on the state of the evidence in the Samuel Woodward case at this point, other than to say the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department are continuing to work together diligently to make sure no stone is left unturned.
We are continuing to encourage anyone with information about this case to call Orange County District Attorney Homicide Unit Supervising Investigator Kory Degraffenreid at (714) 347-8492.
Over the last several weeks, we have discovered a glaring omission in our laws to protect all members of our community, especially LGBTQ members. This community is often targeted for persecution and prejudice. I asked Senator Janet Nguyen to carry this new legislation as she is not just a strong advocate for public safety laws, but she is someone who can build bipartisan support to get the law enacted. Most recently, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and I worked with Senator Nguyen to create Erica Alonso’s law which elevated the crime of dumping a deceased body from a misdemeanor to a felony.
We are grateful to Senator Nguyen who will lead the efforts in Sacramento to bring about this much needed change to provide protection to ALL members of our community – regardless of their sexual orientation. We need to expand the existing language of special circumstances murder, Penal Code section 190.2, subsection 16, to add “sexual orientation” and “gender” to the existing protected classes of “race, color, religion, nationality and country of origin.” The term “sexual orientation” and “gender” will be defined as currently stated in Penal Code section 422.56.
As we strive to protect all members of society, it’s a glaring omission that sexual orientation is NOT a protected class of crime victims of special circumstances murder in California. Interestingly enough, they are protected members in other penal code sections. If the sexual orientation of a victim is a substantial factor in a defendant’s intent to murder, then he or she should be subjected to the punishment of life without possibility of parole and face the possibility of a death penalty.
Unfortunately, laws often need to be revised in light of tragic situations. It’s time that California places members of the LGBTQ community as a protected class of victims of special circumstances murder. Although this draft legislation will not have an impact on the Woodward case, it will fortify the existing language and address the gap in the current law to include this much needed classification. We are hoping that this draft legislation, SB 971, will gain momentum as it goes through the process. Here to share a little more about how this proposed legislation came together and how that process works is Senator Janet Nguyen.
This concludes the formal portion of our press conference and we have time to take a few questions. Thank you again for joining us today.