The Broken DealIn 2005 Debbie’s attorneys met with Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley and his then Chief Deputy DA Curt Livesay. Livesay was the very DA who had approved the death penalty against Debbie in 1983. Based on the new evidence of domestic violence presented by Debbie’s attorneys, as well as a thorough review of the District Attorney’s own files, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley concluded that voluntary manslaughter — not first-degree murder — most accurately represented Debbie’s level of culpability. Voluntary manslaughter would have carried a sentence of 2-6 years, meaning that Debbie should have been freed in 1989 at the very latest. This was not an idle conclusion; District Attorney Steve Cooley entered into a written deal with Debbie’s attorneys to obtain her immediate release from prison. Click HERE to see a copy of the written deal.
An April 2006 Los Angeles Times article recounts what happened next: “Then Cooley changed his mind. His offer had set off a political battle in his office, according to court filings, with top level deputy prosecutors saying they should have been consulted.” Cooley’s office later claimed to have changed course based on new evidence against Peagler. This claim led best-selling author and LA Times columnist Steve Lopez to write: “I’m not sure what’s worse: that Cooley and his chief deputy would offer a get-out-of-jail deal without doing any homework, or that they’d be unprofessional enough to withdraw it without a full explanation for their ineptitude…”
In an effort to overcome the broken deal, Debbie’s attorneys submitted numerous petitions in Los Angeles Superior Court, filed a civil suit against Cooley and the other prosecutors involved, and sought Debbie’s release through parole and various other avenues.