One year ago today (February 22, 2021)… Convicted sex offender accepts plea deal in boy murders

One year ago today (February 22, 2021)… A convicted sex offender has not contested two counts of murder and is expected to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murders of two young Southland boys within five years. duration of the year.

Kenneth Kasten Rasmuson, 59, is scheduled to be sentenced April 27 at the Pomona courthouse.

Monday’s plea deal came as Orange County prosecutors faced off with Los Angeles County prosecutors over a proposed dismissal of special circumstances allegations that would have kept the defendant eligible for the death penalty and at least a life sentence without parole.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer made the highly unusual decision earlier this month to charge Rasmuson with one of the murders, even though he was already on trial for that murder in the county of Los Angeles. Spitzer prosecutors were set to take over the Orange County-related killing if Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon wanted to drop the special circumstances allegations.

Spitzer said he charged Rasmuson with the July 2, 1981 murder of 6-year-old Jeffrey Vargo of Anaheim Hills because he feared that without the particular circumstances allegations that Rasmuson, if convicted at trial, would one day get a parole hearing and a chance to be free.

“I’m so relieved that this is coming to an end,” Jeffrey’s mother, Connie, told reporters outside the courtroom on Monday.

She said Gascon’s office planned to dismiss the special circumstances allegations “for this heinous crime, but now we know that (Rasmuson) is going to jail for the rest of his life… This case has gone on too long.”

The sister of the other boy Rasmuson killed – Miguel Antero, 6 – said his family was “blindsided” by the plea deal. Enid Antero, who lives in New York, was traveling on Monday when she was alerted to the no contest plea. A parent had to be rushed to the hearing, she said.

“We didn’t expect this at all,” Antero told City News Service. “It was almost as if we were blinded by the good news behind a dark cloud… We expected to go to court and hear news of a set trial date.”

Antero and his mother favored the death penalty for Rasmuson but were happy to settle for life in prison without parole.

“All we ever wanted was for him to never be on the streets again,” Antero said.

She said her family got angry with Gascon for the way he handled the case.

“But the result was a very good surprise,” Antero said. “It’s relief, tears of joy, just tears of joy, crying. It is a relief. It’s sadness and closure all rolled into one.

Gascon criticized Spitzer for wanting to pursue the death penalty.

“It was a heinous offense and this individual will not share the sidewalk with the rest of us,” he said. “The defendant still risked life in prison, making the rhetoric of harsh voices to criminality incredibly dangerous and totally unrealistic.

“Splitting this case or seeking the death penalty in a state with a moratorium would have dragged victims through decades of legal proceedings for an execution that is extremely unlikely to occur.

“To spend exorbitant sums on a death penalty prosecution that is ultimately just for show would force the families of these victims to relive their trauma through decades of litigation. It is not in the interest of the victims, nor in the interest of the public. »

Rasmuson was sentenced to stand trial in Los Angeles County in August 2016 for killing Jeffrey and Miguel, who were killed five years later.

Rasmuson was arrested in March 2015 in Sandpoint, Idaho, after DNA evidence linked him to the 1981 murder.

Enid Antero said she was at work when she got the call and found herself in the bathroom “bawling”.

Miguel and his family lived in a “religious neighborhood” in Agoura Hills at the time. The boy was dropped off by the school bus on a narrow road from his home when he was quickly abducted, said his sister, who was 11 at the time.

Enid Antero said her little brother was particularly generous and calm.

“He loved acting, he had such a good heart – he was my shadow,” she said. “His best friends were girls. He was probably going to be such a ladies’ man.

Construction workers found Jeffrey’s body in Pomona a day after the youngster left his home to visit a fireworks display, authorities say.

As Rasmuson awaited trial in the case, he was charged with the April 8, 1986 murder of Miguel, whose body was found in a wash in Agoura Hills the same day he was discovered missing from his home.

Rasmuson was also linked to that murder through DNA evidence, prosecutors said.

Rasmuson was facing special circumstances allegations of multiple murders and that the murders were committed while committing a lewd or lascivious act on a child.

Rasmuson had previously been convicted in 1981 of sexually assaulting another boy, prosecutors said.

Orange County prosecutors had intended to let Los Angeles County prosecutors handle the case, but stepped in on February 11, filing their own criminal complaint because Spitzer believes the defendant should at least least face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

Spitzer also strongly criticized Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision to suspend the death penalty in the state.

In a court filing, Spitzer’s office argued that his office “has an interest in this case because the victim … was a resident of Orange County at the time of his murder.” His parents and relatives have remained residents of Orange County until the present.

Spitzer prosecutors also noted that the boy was kidnapped from Orange County and argued that Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon, who took office in December, is not offering to dismiss claims of special circumstances “because there are evidentiary issues or because it would be fair and just”. just to do it, but because of a series of special directives in which he is trying to fundamentally change criminal procedure through an executive order. His attempt to do so is manifestly contrary to the advancement of justice.

Rasmuson is charged with “horrible” crimes, according to the motion filed by Spitzer’s office.

“He kidnapped two vulnerable 6-year-old boys, sexually assaulted them and murdered them,” the motion reads. “The defendant’s background, character and outlook show that he is a dangerous serial predator who is unlikely to ever change. He has served two prison terms for assaulting an 11-year-old boy whom he lured into solitary before sodomizing him and he abducted a 3-year-old boy from the boy’s front yard before later sodomizing him and leaving him to wander naked down a street the next day.”

Authorities found child pornography in the defendant’s possession when he was arrested in 2015, “and his internet history revealed multiple searches for child pornography,” according to the petition.

Two months after the death of the Orange County victim, Rasmuson “lured an 11-year-old boy into solitary confinement asking him to help find his disabled dog” in Santa Barbara, county prosecutors say. ‘Orange. Rasmuson sexually assaulted the boy, who lied to his attacker that he liked it so he could get away, which worked, prosecutors said.

Rasmuson was sentenced to prison for the 1981 sexual assault, and when he served that prison sentence, he was considered a “mentally ill offender,” county prosecutors said. Orange. He was released from prison in 1985 and ordered to undergo treatment for sexual disorders. During that time, he killed Miguel, according to prosecutors.

A year later, Rasmuson abducted a 3-year-old boy from the front yard of his Los Angeles home and drove off. The boy was found naked the next day, wandering by the side of a road, and Rasmuson was eventually found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

After serving his sentence, Rasmuson was designated a violent sexual predator and committed to Atascadero State Hospital. He was released in 2007.

Rasmuson “admitted” to doctors that he had “committed at least 10 pedophilias since the age of 18, a period in the defendant’s life that included only four and a half years of incarceration”, but prosecutors in the Orange County alleged. “Defendant grabs unsuspecting children from the streets of their neighborhood, or even from the front yards of their homes. He is brash, impulsive and indifferent to the suffering of others, which makes him very dangerous.

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