Family of Kevin Santos wants Judge Patricia Cookson to apologize for performing killer's wedding

Danne Desbrow, fiancee married after sentencing

SAN DIEGO - The family of a murder victim is demanding an apology from the local judge who sentenced his killer.

El Cajon Judge Patricia Cookson is facing criticism after sentencing convicted killer Danne Desbrow to life in prison and then performing his marriage ceremony minutes later.

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. The bride, Destiny Desbrow, told 10News Cookson even baked the happy couple a cake.

"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.

Cookson's actions created a national firestorm when she agreed to perform the ceremony at the bride's request. On Sept. 17, Danne Desbrow was sentenced to 53 years to life in prison after he was convicted of killing Kevin Santos. Desbrow claims he was defending himself in a 2003 fight.

The Santos family says they want an apology from Cookson.

"She was insensitive and this was just a slap in our faces. My brother was a person. This wedding was a mockery, a joke," said Gorgean Santos.

In a letter drafted this week to Cookson, attorney and victim advocate Paul Kamenar wrote:

"The Santos family would like to know why you went out of your way to perform this favor for this murderer, and at minimum, request a public apology from you."

Based on Cookson's response, Kamenar said he may also file a formal complaint with the state Commission on Judicial Performance, alleging breach of judicial ethics.

Cookson did not return 10News' calls seeking comment.

Desbrow responded to the outrage over his wedding in an interview with 10News, saying, "Just because I'm convicted, I'm not supposed to be happy?"

In the interview, reporter Michael 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.

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