Senior prosecutor Ron Zonen — who made a name for himself on the prosecution team that took on Michael Jackson — is retiring, he announced last week. Zonen is joined by Jim Kreyger, who will also be stepping down, meaning the District Attorney’s Office, which has already seen decades of experience leave during the last couple years, will lose even more in the coming months. Both men are 62 years old.
“They will be greatly missed,” said DA Joyce Dudley. But Zonen, along with longtime coworker Kreyger, won’t be missed just yet — both are volunteering their services for at least the next few months. Zonen will be trying a murder trial later this year, while Kreyger will be training the two men who will replace him in the department’s filing deputy position.
Zonen, considered by many to be the department’s best trial attorney, handled two of the highest-profile cases ever to be filed by the DA’s office. In addition to prosecuting Jackson, in which Zonen gave a powerful and eloquent closing argument, he was the prosecutor of four of the five people involved in the murder of Nicholas Markowitz, though he was taken off the case of their ringleader, Jesse James Hollywood. Then-DA Christie Stanley removed him despite a ruling from the California Supreme Court that he did nothing wrong when he helped filmmakers with a movie on the tragic murder.
Zonen, known for his meticulous preparation, intelligence, and ability to communicate with juries, paved a trail in prosecutions against defendants accused of sexual assault, molestation, and crimes against children, taking on difficult and often ugly cases that were typically handled by female attorneys.
Kreyger, meanwhile, held a lower profile, but has been just as important to the office over the years. Kreyger took on some of the department’s most difficult white-collar–crime cases, which are always time-consuming and full of complexity. He worked for county probation prior to the DA’s office, and for the last several years found himself as its filing deputy. He was responsible for reviewing the 230 or so cases the office receives each week from various law enforcement agencies, filing the appropriate charges, assigning the appropriate prosecutor, or not filing charges should the evidence not be sufficient.