STATEMENT ON OVERTURNED CONVICTION IN SUNSET BEACH MURDER CASE

Todd Spitzer Sat On a Miscarriage of Justice for Two Years

SANTA ANA – Today, Former Marine Judge Advocate, Deputy District Attorney, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Pete Hardin released the following statement following an Orange County judge’s ruling to overturn a 2010 murder conviction.

Todd Spitzer promised to clean up the office in the wake of the snitch scandal. Instead, he just cosigned on it. At the center of the scandal is Deputy DA and candidate for judge, Ebrahim Baytieh, who withheld evidence in this case. Spitzer has called Baytieh his ‘North Star… someone you look up to to guide you.’ That guidance has left our justice system mired in scandal.

“Prosecutors informed defense attorneys in 2019 that they’d failed to turn over crucial evidence. Spitzer asked for a new trial two years later, only after defense attorneys requested a hearing to determine whether prosecutors violated the defendant’s constitutional rights. By waiting, DA Spitzer abdicated the duty of the prosecutor to defense attorneys, a portrait of the win-at-all-cost’ mentality that he asserts is no longer tolerated. 

“The prosecutor has a duty to seek justice, and Todd Spitzer has once again demonstrated that he is not up to the task. It’s a failure that has come at great cost to the integrity of our criminal justice system, the credibility of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, and the victims in this case who just had their world turned upside down.

“Todd Spitzer has perpetuated yet another injustice. That not only strains public trust in an office overwhelmed by scandal, it reflects a crisis of leadership.”

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Current Orange County District Attorney Republican Todd Spitzer’s tenure has been defined by scandal. Four women in Spitzer’s office have filed claims asserting Spitzer promoted an employee and close friend despite having been made aware of the sexual harassment complaints against him. Spitzer later allowed the employee, who was the best man at his wedding, to retire with top flight benefits. Spitzer also attempted to drop sexual assault charges against high-profile defendants, leading a judge to remove him from the case.  Survivors of the sexual assault survivors were “dragged through the mud” and “grossly mistreated” by Spitzer for two and a half years, leading two of them to abandon their case. 

Spitzer has been involved in an evidence booking scandal, a jailhouse informant scandal, and has defamed a victim of OC’s deadliest mass shooting as retaliation for peaceful protest. Spitzer has also defended a DNA collection program known informally as “Spit and Acquit” that coerces defendants to give up their DNA to law enforcement, a practice the ACLU has called “unconstitutional.

Pete Hardin is a former Judge Advocate in the U.S. Marine Corps, Deputy District Attorney, Special Assistant United States Attorney, and one of Southern California’s leading litigators running for Orange County District Attorney. Pete entered public service when, in 2005, he earned his commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. A combat veteran, Pete served in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012 as a member of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. Pete is a member of the Democratic Party.

Orange County’s rapidly changing electorate has led Democrats to now outnumber Republicans in Orange County holding a 4.1% voter registration advantage.