The Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office is petitioning the California Supreme Court once again in a last ditch effort to keep a sexually violent predator out of the county.
DA Joyce Dudley lost the latest round in her efforts to keep Tibor Karsai out of Santa Barbara when a Court of Appeal in Northern California recently denied an argument from Dudley’s office.
The Third District Court of Appeal said that there is nothing in the Sexually Violent Predator statute that would prevent Karsai, deemed a transient, from being released in Santa Barbara County. Nothing “precludes a court from ordering the conditional release of a person committed as an SVP even though no fixed residence has been located for the person before his release,” the court said in an opinion last week.
So the DA’s Office will head back to the Supreme Court in one last shot to keep Karsai from being released into the county. The matter had already been up to the state’s highest court once, and the court sent the case down to the lower courts for more review.
Karsai, in 1974, was convicted of forcible rape in Santa Barbara. Three years later he was paroled and lived in Morro Bay. In 1980, Karsai — working as a truck driver — was in Placer County when he committed a forcible sex crime. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 26 years in state prison there.
In 1998, according to the local DA, Karsai finished his prison term, but the Placer County DA filed a petition to have him remain in custody because he was a sexually violent predator. The petition was granted then, and every two years the Placer County DA has had to re-petition the court to keep Karsai in custody.
The most recent trial resulted in a hung jury, according to a press release from the Santa Barbara DA, and rather than try again, the Placer DA decided to let Karsai go through a conditional release program. A Placer County judge ordered Karsai be placed in a Santa Maria home.
The Santa Barbara DA’s Office has argued that Santa Barbara is not the correct “domicile” county for Karsai, but rather it is San Luis Obispo. The DA also argued that the home proposed for Karsai in Santa Maria is within 2,000 feet of an elementary school and community park.