In 2018, Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., the man suspected to be the Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist, was taken into custody and charged with multiple crimes, including rape and murder. Now, prior to DeAngelo standing trial in California, he is expected to plead guilty to 88 charges as a way to avoid the death penalty. He is expected to receive life in prison instead.
According to The Sacramento Bee, DeAngelo is slated to enter the guilty plea at a hearing on June 29. The development was reportedly confirmed by four sources. As stated by the publication, specific details surrounding the agreement are still being finalized, including where the hearing will occur.
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While prior court appearances related to DeAngelo’s charges have taken place inside of a crowded courtroom on the first floor of the Sacramento County Main Jail, modifications are likely to be made for the upcoming court date. Due to the intense interest in the case, including the likelihood that countless spectators will want to be present, and the need to follow social distancing guidelines due to COVID-19, other options are being considered for his next hearing.
As a result, officials are said to be looking for larger settings outside of Sacramento Superior Court. Large public buildings in Sacramento are reportedly being considered for the appearance.
Prior to being captured, the man known as the Golden State Killer was said to be behind a lengthy crime spree in the 1970s and 80s. Police now believe he was responsible for over 50 rapes and several murders. According to SFGate, he was known for “creating violating, personal connections to victims” that would oftentimes extend beyond the physical attack. In some cases, he reportedly called his victims afterward.
In 2018, DNA that was submitted to GEDmatch linked DeAngelo, a former police officer, to the crimes.
While Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s office declined to comment on the ongoing legal proceedings, prosecutors from other counties that have filed charges have spoken out about DeAngelo’s case in a joint statement.
After stating that all six District Attorney’s Offices that were involved in the prosecution were working closely with the victims, it said that they felt as though they had “a moral and ethical responsibility to consider any offer from the defense, given the massive scope of the case, the advanced age of many of the victims and witnesses, and our inherent obligations to the victims.”
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DeAngelo’s attorney, Sacramento County Supervising Assistant Public Defender Joseph Cress, also addressed the guilty plea that is expected to come later this month.
“We feel this is a just resolution of this case and that the resolution provides some finality and closure for the victims. This also avoids the stress and financial costs of a lengthy trial,” Cress said.
However, as noted by The Sacramento Bee, DeAngelo has been known to exhibit an “unpredictable nature,” which could, in turn, throw off the planned guilty plea. After DeAngelo’s initial hearing on June 29, he is expected to be sentenced in August, reports Fox News.