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Alleged shooter to plead guilty in California hair salon rampage

(Reuters) - A former tugboat worker accused of killing his ex-wife and seven others at a California hair salon will change his plea to guilty just weeks before the start of a trial over the largest mass shooting in Orange County history, newspapers reported.

A lawyer for Scott Evans Dekraai told the court on Monday that the accused shooter would plead guilty to eight counts of murder with special circumstances and one count of attempted murder, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Prosecutors say Dekraai was locked in a bitter child custody battle with his ex-wife Michelle Fournier when he walked into Salon Meritage in Seal Beach in October of 2011 carrying three guns and opened fire.

Fournier, 48, was killed, along with salon owner Randy Fannin, 62, and five other people inside the salon. Prosecutors said Dekraai shot his victims at close range, several of them multiple times as they lay dying.

Harriet Stretz, 73, who was in a chair having her hair styled by her daughter, Laura Lee Elody, at the time of the shooting, survived her wounds. Elody, 46, was among the dead.

After leaving the salon, Dekraai shot dead 64-year-old David Caouette, who was sitting in his sport utility vehicle parked outside the salon, prosecutors said.

Dekraai was arrested just blocks from the bloody scene.

This version of the story corrects tense in the headline to show alleged shooter expected to plead guilty.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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