As any Second Amendment supporter in the state can tell you, California has a lot of laws on the books; far too many of them aimed at turning a fundamental right into a criminal offense. Meanwhile, those accused of violent crimes are far too often treated as victims themselves; of circumstance if not the criminal justice system itself.
That may very well be the case when it comes to the man accused of murdering Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Isaac Cordero last week. William Shae McKay had a criminal history dating back more than 20 years; including a 2021 conviction on charges of false imprisonment, receiving stolen property and evading police officers. Unbelievably, McKay was still allowed to post bail and leave jail after that conviction in November of 2021; a decision that local law enforcement believe had a direct link to Cordero’s murder a little more than a year later.
He was facing a third-strike sentence of 25 years to life in prison, but his attorneys asked for a new trial and that one of his strikes be dismissed.
McKay’s bail was reduced from $950,000 to $500,000 while his case was pending, and he was released on bail in March. In October, a warrant was issued for his arrest when McKay failed to make a court appearance. The trial judge in his case was Cara D. Hutson.
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco and San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson said the justice system had failed Deputy Cordero.
In a news release, Anderson noted his office opposed the bail reduction as well as the motion to dismiss a prior strike.
“Our office upheld our oath of pursuing justice by prosecuting convicted felon McKay in November of 2021, however a failure in the process to separate McKay from society and hold him accountable for his crimes has resulted in the tragic loss of a law enforcement deputy,” Anderson said.
Cordero’s uncle, Carlos Padilla, echoed his own frustration with the system and Judge Hutson.
“The law that he swore to uphold took his life,” Padilla said. “They said ‘You’re being dropped in the battlefield,’ and then they abandoned him. It’s so heart-wrenching that the same people we allow to be in office can do something like this.”
Hutson, a Democrat, was appointed to the San Bernardino County Superior Court bench in 2007 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Before that, she worked as a deputy district attorney from 1994 until her appointment. She was last elected in June 2022 when she ran unopposed.
While McKay’s attorney was seeking a new trial, the judge had every opportunity (and reason) to keep him behind bars pending his appeal. McKay had previously been convicted of two violent crimes, starting with a 1999 conviction for assault with a firearm that resulted in a three-year prison sentence. In 2005 McKay was again convicted, this time for robbery with intent to produce great bodily injury, and was sentenced to 16 years behind bars. Since then, McKay had other contacts with law enforcement, including the March 2021 incident that gave him his third strike.
According to court papers filed by prosecutors, a woman in March 2021 told San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies that she was asked by McKay to house-sit and feed his dogs while he was in custody on an unrelated case.
The house was burglarized while she was briefly gone and McKay accused her of being involved. Prosecutors alleged McKay punched her in the face, took her purse, keys, credit cards and cellphone and dragged her to his garage.
McKay tied her hands and feet with duct tape, in view of two accomplices, according to court papers. The woman was taken to various parts of the house, while McKay and the others made purchases on her credit cards, records allege.
At times, duct tape was placed over the woman’s mouth and she was punched. She eventually broke free of her restraints and ran to a neighbor’s house, where she called police.
On March 29, 2021, the California Highway Patrol tried to pull McKay over for driving a stolen vehicle, but he led officers on a 20-mile pursuit. He and a passenger, Abrianna Valerie Gonzalez, abandoned the car when it became disabled and fled on foot, armed with knives. They were arrested after Gonzalez stabbed a police dog, which had to be airlifted to a hospital, the CHP said at the time.
Serious crimes that could have resulted in decades behind bars, but thanks to the judge’s largesse, McKay was able to post bail post-conviction and stroll out of custody free as a bird.
California lawmakers are set to resume their attacks on legal gun owners in just a few short days, with restricting the right to carry one of their top priorities for the new year. Ensuring that violent offenders like McKay stay behind bars, on the other hand, isn’t much of a concern for the politicians intent on carving up our Second Amendment rights into a never-ending series of non-violent possessory crimes. In the twisted worldview of the anti-gun left, guys like McKay are always deserving of another chance, while peaceable gun owners are considered a threat until or unless they’re disarmed.