Date: December 11, 2015
OCDA TO SEEK DEATH PENALTY AGAINST REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER FOR SPECIAL-CIRCUMSTANCES MURDER OF FOUR WOMEN AFTER KIDNAPPING AND RAPING THE VICTIMS
SANTA ANA, Calif. – The Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) announced today that he will seek the death penalty against a registered sex offender for the special-circumstances murder of four women after kidnapping and raping the victims. Steven Dean Gordon, 46, Anaheim, was indicted by the grand jury on Oct. 2, 2014. He is charged with four felony counts of special circumstances murder during the commission of rape, kidnapping, lying in wait, and multiple murders. He is also charged with four felony counts of forcible rape. Gordon was in court today and is next scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Jan. 22, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Prior to seeking the death penalty against Gordon, a special circumstances committee consisting of the District Attorney, the Senior Assistant and Assistant District Attorney in charge of the Homicide Unit, and other prosecutors experienced in capital cases meet and discuss the nature of the crime, the vulnerability of the victims, the defendant’s criminal record, and other factors. The committee also considers mitigating circumstances presented by the defense attorney.
California law permits the District Attorney to seek the death penalty if the aggravating factors substantially outweigh the mitigating factors. Aggravating factors are any facts above and beyond the circumstances of crime that increases the wrongfulness of the defendant’s conduct, the enormity of the offense, or the harmful impact of the crime. Mitigating factors are any facts that reduce the defendant’s blameworthiness or otherwise support a less severe punishment. The final decision to pursue the death penalty rests on the District Attorney.
Co-defendant Franc Cano, 29, Anaheim, was also indicted by the grand jury on Oct. 2, 2014, and is facing the same charges as Gordon. Cano is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Jan. 29, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-35, Central Justice Center.
Circumstances of the Case
Prior to the murders, Gordon and Cano are accused of being registered sex offenders under federal supervision through GPS anklets. They are accused of being transients who camped in the back of a paint and body shop in Anaheim.
On Oct. 6, 2013, Gordon and Cano are accused of kidnapping 20-year-old Kianna Jackson from Santa Ana and taking her to a paint and body shop in Anaheim where they raped and murdered her.
On Oct. 24, 2013, Gordon and Cano are accused of kidnapping 34-year-old Josephine Vargas from Santa Ana and taking her to a paint and body shop in Anaheim where they raped and murdered her.
On Nov. 12, 2013, Gordon and Cano are accused of kidnapping 28-year-old Martha Anaya from Santa Ana and taking her to a paint and body shop in Anaheim where they raped and murdered her.
On March 14, 2014, Gordon and Cano are accused of kidnapping 21-year-old Jarrae Nykkole Estepp from west Anaheim and taking her to a paint and body shop in east Anaheim where they raped and murdered her.
On March 14, 2014, the Anaheim Police Department (APD) received a call about a body found on the conveyer belt at a recycling plant in east Anaheim. During the investigation, detectives identified the body as that of Estepp and linked Cano to the victim by running a sex offender GPS check. Gordon was later identified as a co-defendant in the four murders. The bodies of the other three victims were never recovered.
APD and Santa Ana Police Department investigated this case.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.