Rasmuson spent 17 years in prison for the 1980s molestation of an 11-year-old boy in Santa Barbara County and a 3-year-old Los Angeles boy. After serving his time, he was committed to a state mental hospital as a dangerous sex offender but was released in 2007.
Because he was charged with murder with special circumstances, Rasmuson could have been eligible for the death penalty. However, Gascón has barred prosecutors from seeking the death penalty on grounds that a capital sentence could lead to decades of costly appeals with little chance of an execution.
California hasn’t executed anyone since 2006. There are currently more than 700 people on California’s death row and Gov. Gavin Newsom has put a moratorium on executions so long as he is governor.
Gascón last year also barred prosecutors in general from filling special circumstance allegations that can add prison time but under community pressure he later made an exception in certain cases, including those involving child sexual abuse. Several judges also had blocked his office’s attempts to dismiss sentencing enhancements.
Last week, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said he also was charging Rasmuson with the killing of Jeffrey Vargo out of concern that Gascón intended to drop the special circumstance allegation.