DA Wanted To Use Black Man's Dating History To Determine Death Penalty

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A California district attorney is being accused of using Black men's history of dating white women as a factor in sentencing.

According to a report by BuzzFeed News, eight prosecutors were considering whether or not they would seek the death penalty for a Black man back in October 2021 when their boss, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, asked out loud if the man had ever dated a white woman.

Internal memos obtained by the outlet said that one of the prosecutors called the question "irrelevant" and "inappropriate" but Spitzer continued to push the issue adding later that "he knows many Black people who get themselves out of their bad circumstances and bad situations by only dating 'white women.'"

Senior District Attorney Brahim Baytieh reportedly tried to shut Spitzer's conversation down, reminding him that state law prohibits DA's from considering race during sentencing and that such conversations had to be disclosed to defense attorneys before the trial.

That memo never made it to defense attorneys, though, because Spitzer barred staff from discussing it and removed them from the case entirely. Two months later, Spitzer fired Baytieh for unrelated allegations.

Other employees say they've been targeted by Spitzer in retaliation and the office overall has numerous complaints of racism, sexual harassment and favoritism. Spitzer claims Baytieh released the internal memo to get back at him.

"It was clearly for one reason and one reason only –– he was sending a shot across the bow to say, 'If you think you're going to discipline me [...] you've got another thing come," Spitzer told BuzzFeed.

Spitzer's reps provided the outlet with another internal memo that claims he mentioned that he's "seen Black men date white women in certain circles in order to have others around them be more accepting," and referenced Larry Elder as an example.

The Black man's fate at the center of this internal dispute is Jamon Rayon Buggs who was charged in the 2019 double homicide of a man and a woman in Newport Beach. After the killings, Buggs is believed to have gone to Irvine on a jealous rampaage looking for a man he thought was involved with a woman he previously dated.

He went to the wrong home and was arrested outside after he was caught peering into the apartment. Police reports that Buggs had been involved in the criminal justice system in the past for other violent offenses including domestic violence.

One of the victims' family believes prosecutors sought life without the possibility of parole instead of the death penalty to cover up Spitzer's comments.

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