Sexual predator takes plea deal in murders of two 6-year-olds after LA district attorney reverses course – Orange County Register
In a rare departure from the controversial sentencing policy of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, prosecutors on Monday cemented a plea deal to send a violent predator to prison for the rest of its life, with no parole for the six-year murders -old Jeffrey Vargo from Anaheim Hills and another boy.
During a hearing at the Pomona Courthouse South, 59-year-old Kenneth Kasten Rasmuson sat handcuffed at the waist next to his defense attorney and tacitly made no plea for two murders, the specific fact that several people were killed.
A judge is expected to sentence Rasmuson to life in prison without parole during another hearing on April 27. He was accused of kidnapping Jeffrey near his home in 1981 and killing him in Agoura Hills. The second boy, 6-year-old Miguel Antero, was abducted in 1986 and his body was found dumped in a ravine in Agoura Hills.
Deal was in the works
Los Angeles County’s assistant district attorney Joseph Iniguez said in court on Monday that the plea deal had been in the works for some time. Orange County’s District Attorney Todd Spitzer, who filed a motion last week to steal Gascon’s case, denied the allegation.
Spitzer said that on Jan. 8, Gascon filed a motion to dismiss improvements due to exceptional circumstances in the case, filed by former Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey.
“The Los Angeles County district attorney misleadingly said that a deal was in the works for a long time,” said Spitzer.
Spitzer said he decided to intervene in the case – indicting Rasmuson of murder in special circumstances and filing a motion to take the Gascón case away – after reading an article in the Southern California News Group last month that featured Jeffrey’s parents , Bob and Connie Vargo, raised concerns that justice would not be served.
“The Los Angeles District Attorney did not propose a contest today,” Spitzer said, theorizing that his motion put Gascon in a corner. “We believe we had leverage. That shouldn’t have to happen in Los Angeles County. “
Gascon defends its handling
Gascón defended his handling of the case and attacked Spitzer’s attempt to fend off the charges.
“This was a heinous crime and this person is not going to share the sidewalk with the rest of us,” Gascón said in a statement. “The accused always faced life in prison, which made the rhetoric of voices harsh against crime incredibly dangerous and completely removed from reality.
“Splitting this case or applying for the death penalty in a moratorium state would have dragged the victims through decades of legal proceedings for an execution that is extremely unlikely. Spending exorbitant amounts on a death penalty that is ultimately only on display would force the families of these victims to relive their trauma through decades of litigation. That is neither in the interest of the victims nor in the interest of the public. “
Spitzer signaled his intention to seek the death penalty if he was granted jurisdiction despite Governor Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on the death penalty, the statement said.
Gascón vehemently opposes the death penalty “because of its different uses, the lack of deterrent effect, the extraordinary costs for taxpayers and because it imposes decades of appeals on victims – and forces them to relive their trauma,” the statement said.
Late last year, the Los Angeles District Assistant District Attorneys Association, which represents approximately 850 prosecutors, filed a civil lawsuit against the legality of Gascón’s policies, including the abolition of penalty enhancements that can add years to a defendant’s prison term.
Earlier this month, Los Angeles District Supreme Court Justice James Chalfant ruled that Gascón’s initiative for improvements in a large number of cases violated state law.
Connie and Bob Vargo are shown with a photo of their 6-year-old son Jeffrey Vargo, who was kidnapped and murdered in 1981, at their Anaheim Hills home on Thursday, January 28, 2021. Jeffrey’s accused killer, Kenneth Rasmuson, was arrested in 2015. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register / SCNG)
Mother: “I just wanted it to be over.”
During a press conference outside the Pomona courthouse, Connie Vargo said that justice is a long time coming for her son and she is satisfied that Rasmuson will never be free.
“We’re finally putting an end to this,” she said, describing Rasmuson as a “coward” for not pleading competition instead of admitting guilt, although a non-competitive plea is equivalent to a guilt plea but cannot be used against a defendant can civil court. “I just wanted it to be over.”
The Vargos ordeal began on July 2, 1981. Jeffrey was riding his bike near his Anaheim Hills home when Rasmuson allegedly abducted him. The boy’s body was found about 25 miles away at a construction site in Pomona’s Phillips Ranch neighborhood the next day, but it wasn’t until 2015 that DNA would lead to Rasmuson’s arrest.
Six-year-old Miguel was kidnapped on April 8, 1986 after getting off a school bus. The boy was stabbed several times and his body was discovered in a laundry that same day.
Rasmuson’s long criminal history includes not only two murders but also convictions for sexually assaulting two boys from Southern California in 1981 and 1987.
Iris Land, a cousin of Miguel, said she was delighted that Rasmuson would never run free. “I’m grateful to have a closure,” she said. “It’s been almost six years since you arrested the son of a bitch.”