The latest murder victim in Los Angeles is one of the criminals let off easy by radical prosecutor George Gascón.
In a turn of events that captures the epidemic of lawlessness affecting the city, a Los Angeles teenager who hit a mother and baby with his car was shot and killed just weeks after completing his time in a diversionary program.
Kristopher Baca, who pleaded guilty in June 2022 to mowing down the mother walking her child in a stroller in August 2021, was shot to death on Wednesday in Palmdale, Calif., the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced Friday. The mother, who says she voted for Gascón but later left Los Angeles over his "soft-on-crime" approach, told Fox 11 that the "universe delivered the justice we weren't given in court, but a much harsher punishment than he'd have been dealt in a court of law."
The sequence of events shows how crime can compound in many "reform-minded" prosecutors' districts, as their offices pursue lighter sentences and alternatives to incarceration that keep dangerous offenders on the street. Los Angeles's murder rate reached a 15-year high in 2021.
Gascón is one of several so-called progressive prosecutors boosted into office by liberal billionaire George Soros. Elected on a platform to reduce "mass incarceration," the embattled district attorney has faced two potential recall elections over his policies.
After winning office, Gascón announced he would no longer try juvenile criminals as adults, but was forced to reverse course in 2022 after facing backlash. Soros donated $2 million to Gascón's 2020 campaign.
Gascón's office did not respond to a request for comment.
Gascón's office told Fox News in June 2022 that a five to seven months' sentence at a "youth camp" was an "appropriate resolution" in Baca's case. "Fortunately, the baby was uninjured, and the mother received a laceration to her elbow," the office said. Baca had also admitted in court that he had a prior felony conviction from 2019 for poisoning a girl at his high school who later had to be hospitalized.
Prosecutors in Gascón’s office described the youth diversion camp as "less than a military school and a little bit tougher than a summer camp." They promised Baca would "be held accountable for his actions and receive the needed services to foster positive development to keep him from committing future offenses."
A receptionist at Camp Glenn Rockey, where Baca served his sentence, told the Washington Free Beacon that it could not disclose when the juvenile offender had been released. The Los Angeles Times reported that Baca was last seen at the camp in October, four months after he pleaded guilty to the hit-and-run.
Baca's attempted murder of the mother and her baby kickstarted a recall campaign last year against Gascón, which the prosecutor narrowly dodged after signatures for its petition were rejected at a "shockingly" high rate, according to its organizers. The mother, who on the recall group's website chooses to go by her first name, Rachel, said she turned on Gascón over his handling of her case.
"The criminal who tried to kill me and my baby was only sentenced to five months in a juvenile camp," she says in a video featured on the Recall DA George Gascón website. "What he's doing is pro-criminal and anti-victim."
"I was also told that his record would be wiped clean when he turns 18," the mother also told Fox. "How on earth can that be? He tried to murder two innocent pedestrians. Murder. And we have video evidence. My child would be dead if I hadn't been there to protect him."
The recall campaigners sued the Los Angeles County Registrar's Office in October for discarding what they claimed were enough valid signatures to trigger a recall.