Judge gave felon who killed California deputy light prison sentence instead of life

Chad Bianco press conference Riverside County Sheriff.jpg
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco discusses killing of Deputy Isaiah Cordero on Dec. 29, 2022. Riverside County Sheriff’s Dept.

Judge gave felon who killed California deputy light prison sentence instead of life

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A serial felon who killed a patrol deputy should have been spending his life in prison for a violent crime just a year ago, yet he was on the streets, the Riverside County, California, sheriff said.

William Shae McKay, 44, could have been incarcerated under California’s three strikes law, but he was released by a judge and went on to kill Deputy Isaiah Cordero on Thursday, said Sheriff Chad Bianco.

“This terrible tragedy should’ve been prevented by the legal system,” Bianco said. “McKay has an extensive, violent past and was convicted of his third strike in November 2021. That case involved kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon. Instead of sentencing him to 25 years to life, which should’ve happened, the judge lowered his bail, allowing him to be released.”

Cordero, 44, was fatally shot after pulling over McKay’s pickup truck in Jurupa Valley, 40 miles south of Los Angeles. He had been a sheriff’s deputy for eight years.

McKay fled the scene and was killed by police following a high-speed freeway chase that ended when he drove over a spike strip that deflated his tires.

McKay then began shooting at police, who returned fire. KTLA News filmed the incident and zeroed in on the disabled truck with several bullet holes visible in the windshield.

Just a year ago, McKay was convicted of offenses that would normally land him in prison for life, having committed a third violent felony under the voter-approved three strikes law. McKay’s previous crimes also included robbery and the stabbing of a police dog.

Court records show a conviction of false imprisonment, evading a peace officer, criminal threats likely to result in death or great bodily injury, and receiving stolen property. Evidence against McKay included possession of zip ties, duct tape, an ax, and gang paraphernalia, the Los Angeles Times reported.


McKay was acquitted on additional charges of kidnapping and kidnapping to commit robbery or rape. A court document shows that Judge Cara Hutson dismissed counts of a felon in possession of a gun and a penal code section alleging that he has prior felony convictions, which is required for three strikes.

She then delayed sentencing twice and reduced his bail from $950,000 to $500,000. It is unclear how long McKay served in prison.

“We would not be here today if the judge had done her job,” Bianco said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA), who has advocated lowering the prison population through early release, issued a statement.


“Jennifer and I extend our deepest sympathies to Deputy Isaiah Cordero’s family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time,” Newsom said. “He served his community selflessly, and with dedication and courage. We owe him our respect, gratitude, and will remember his sacrifice.”

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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