'Golden State Killer' Joseph DeAngelo to plead guilty to 88 murder and rape charges to avoid death penalty
The 74-year-old former police officer is suspected of at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes across 6 counties in California
SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Joseph James DeAngelo, accused of being the infamous "Golden State Killer" will reportedly escape the death penalty under a deal with the prosecutors, requiring him to plead guilty to at least 88 murder and rape charges. The courts, however, have not finalized the deal yet.
DeAngelo, a former police officer in Exeter, is suspected of at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes across six different counties in California in the 1970s and 1980s. His crimes also include hundreds of home invasions. The 74-year-old was arrested in April 2018 on the basis of groundbreaking genetic genealogy evidence, DNA testing. Reports state that because of the statute of limitations for sex assault, the rape-related charges against him have been filed as kidnappings to commit robberies with the use of a gun and a knife. Investigators in the case believe that DeAngelo has committed at least 50 rapes, and was known for many years as the "East Area Rapist". A new DNA evidence, in 2001, reportedly linked him to 12 murders committed in Southern California between 1979 and 1986.
DeAngelo was first taken into custody on April 24, 2018, by the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. He was arrested on two murder charges in the 1978 deaths of Brian Maggiore and his wife Katie, who are believed to be the Golden State Killer's first murder victims. His DNA swab later connected him to several other killings and rape cases.
Court officials are reportedly working on securing a big venue, while keeping in mind coronavirus safety measures, in an attempt to allow crowds of family members of the victims and media to view the proceedings when DeAngelo accepts the deal. Sacramento County Supervising Assistant Public Defender Joseph Cress, while talking to the Sacramento Bee on Monday, said that the proposed deal will bring closure to a lot of the families. "We feel this is a just resolution of this case and that the resolution provides some finality and closure for the victims," Cress said. "This also avoids the stress and financial costs of a lengthy trial."
DeAngelo had previously suggested no willingness to accept a plea deal in the charges against him, however, Daily Mail reported sources as saying that he has reversed his views on many of the previous charges under the current deal being offered to him. Before the deal was revealed, at least six countries had consolidated their cases in Sacramento County, and four of them were seeking the death penalty for DeAngelo.
Reports state that public defenders were aiming to formulate a way for prosecutors in Sacramento, Contra Costa, Orange, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura counties to agree to a deal that would eliminate plans for a preliminary hearing, which was scheduled to take place in August. A hearing in the case would have included 150 witnesses testifying over eight to 10 weeks. Many witnesses and victims in the case are either 80 or above.
DeAngelo, who went undetected in the murders and rape cases, has three adult daughters, according to investigators, and married in 1973 to Sharon Marie Huddle. The pair are now divorced.