A former Orange County prosecutor has alleged the District Attorney, Todd Spitzer, reversed a death penalty sentence in a murder case in order to protect himself from backlash over racist comments he made during a meeting about the case.
A 2021 memo by former prosecutor Ebrahim Baytieh claims Spitzer made racist comments in a meeting held earlier in 2021 regarding whether to seek the death penalty in a murder case against a Black man, Jamon Buggs. Buggs is accused of killing Darren Partch, a white man, and another woman.
Baytieh alleges Spitzer brought up the race of the suspect’s previous girlfriends was a pertinent factor in whether the death penalty would be sought. When Baytieh argued that the womens’ races were not important to the case, Spitzer then allegedly answered that he “knows many black people who get themselves out of their bad circumstances and bad situations by only dating white women.”
Spitzer, when asked about the allegations, blasted his former colleague, saying, “My question about Buggs and what the race of former girlfriends was simply to address the issue of cross-racial identification. The single biggest reason for murder convictions to be overturned. I simply was exploring Buggs’ ability to identify, properly or not, the race of the female victim in that moment before he executed two victims.”
The controversy comes as the DA gears up to run for reelection against two former prosecutors in the June primary. Spitzer maintains his decision not to pursue the death penalty against Buggs was based on several factors, including the defendant’s family’s wishes.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: LA TIMES
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