Convicted killer Danne Desbrow talks to 10News about courtroom wedding

Judge Patricia Cookson presided, made couple cake

SAN DIEGO - In his first interview, a convicted killer talked to 10News about his controversial courtroom wedding which has sparked national headlines.

In a photo, Danne Desbrow was all smiles minutes after being sentenced in mid-September to 53 years to life in prison for murder.

"I was smiling because I was happy. I was getting married to someone I love," Desbrow said in a jailhouse interview with 10News reporter Michael Chen.

The story begins with a 2003 cold case -- the murder of Kevin Santos in Lemon Grove that was solved when a witness came forward.

Desbrow claimed he was defending himself in a fight, but was convicted of first-degree murder.

On September 17, Judge Patricia Cookson sentenced him, and then cleared the courtroom, except for Desbrow's family and supporters. Cookson then married Desbrow and his fiancee Destiny. The judge had approved the marriage request a month prior.

During the ceremony, Desbrow's hands were uncuffed, allowing the couple to hold hands. After the wedding, which lasted about 15 minutes, the couple was allowed a kiss.

Cookson then presented slices of a vanilla Bundt cake she had baked herself.

"I thought I was dreaming; never heard of that. It shocked me. I really appreciate it. She didn't have to do that. It made that moment even more special for us," said Destiny Desbrow.

The nuptials have sparked a backlash, led by outraged family members of Kevin Santos.

"I'm devastated; how could you marry a murderer? It's a slap in the face … Why are you sending the message we can marry these people who commit crimes … violent crimes," asked April Santos, the victim's sister.

Attorney and victim advocate Paul Kamenar plans to file a formal complaint against Cookson with the California Commission on Judicial Performance, alleging a breach of judicial ethics.

Backed by the Santos family, Kamenar is asking for a public apology and some sort of censure.

"By marrying this murderer, she has undermined the public confidence and the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary," Kamenar said of Cookson.

"Just because I'm convicted, I'm not supposed to be happy?" said Desbrow.

Chen asked, "Some would say you took a life. You don't deserve to be happy."

"Do I deserve visits? Do I deserve mail? … I think everyone should be able to get married," said Desbrow.

Desbrow and his wife said they never meant to cause the victim's family additional pain. They said they had hoped the wedding wouldn't be held on sentencing day.

The complaint against Cookson will be filed in a few days, and if the commission takes action, she could face discipline ranging from a public censure to losing her job.

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