By Kathy Chouteau
Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Aron DeFerrari has been named the 2021 Outstanding Prosecutor of the Year Award, according to an announcement by District Attorney Diana Becton. The award honors attorneys who “achieve excellence on complex and challenging cases throughout their careers,” per a statement from the DA’s office.
DeFerrari has led an extensive and notable 18-year career as a trial attorney by prosecuting 72 jury and 16 homicide trials—among them, several stand-out cases. He was nominated for the award by DA Becton via a letter to the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) in March 2022.
DA Becton highlighted that, “In the pandemic year, Aron DeFerrari faced challenges in and out of the courtroom,” but despite COVID restrictions, he “spent 103 days prosecuting three separate homicide trials against a total of five defendants. Most impressively, he convicted all five men of murder.”
In one high profile case, People v. Simons, Ortega & Porter-Kelly, DeFerrari employed an original felony murder doctrine to secure second-degree murder convictions for aiding and abetting a defendant in 2016, per DA Becton. Ultimately, the defendant was charged and convicted for killing William Sims at the Capri Club bar in El Sobrante. Although the murder was initially charged as a hate crime, a grand jury rejected that enhancement in 2017, according to the Mercury News.
In People v. William Edwards, DeFerrari successfully prosecuted a member of Oakland’s Ghost Town Gang for killing Taison Calderon-Lopez in 2018—ultimately convicting Edwards of conspiracy to commit murder, murder and special circumstances, per DA Becton.
Earlier in his career—in 2010—DeFerrari was the first Contra Costa County prosecutor to use a dual jury in a quadruple homicide case that resulted in all three defendants being convicted. He also landed a conviction of 174 years to life for human sex trafficker James “Spyder” Joseph Jr. in 2017.
DeFerrari’s “standard of excellence at the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office merits this award—an award he has truly earned,” said DA Becton.