Court Battles

Golden State killer suspect agrees to guilty plea to avoid death penalty: report

The Golden State killer, who police say killed, raped and burglarized people in California between 1973 and 1986, agreed to a guilty plea to avoid the death penalty, multiple sources told the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee.

Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 74, plans to admit to 13 murders and as many rapes in a Sacramento County courtroom on June 29, sources told the Times. 

The sources, who were not permitted to discuss the arrangement with media, told the newspaper DeAngelo plans to admit to scores of crimes that he is not charged with because the statute of limitations has expired. 

DeAngelo’s attorney, Sacramento County Supervising Assistant Public Defender Joseph Cress, told the Sacramento Bee that the plea would give some “finality” to his victims without a long and expensive trial.

“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.”

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert declined to comment to the Sacramento Bee, but prosecutors from six counties released a joint statement saying they are “working closely with the victims … to ensure their statements are considered by the court prior to sentencing.”

“We have 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,” the statement obtained by the Sacramento Bee said. 

The reported arrangement comes after months of negotiations as public defenders in Sacramento aimed to find a deal to avoid a preliminary hearing that could last weeks set to begin in August. 

The Golden State killer is estimated to have bound, tortured, raped or killed more than 106 people, according to an investigation by the Times. 

The crimes DeAngelo is accused of extend across more than a dozen California counties, where couples were targeted. 

The alleged crimes begin with bedroom ransackings and a murder in Visalia before a series of rapes and two more killings in the Sacramento and Bay areas. The attacks evolved into another 10 home invasion killings in Southern California. 

DeAngelo, a former officer with the Auburn Police Department where he served during some of his attacks, evaded capture for decades until law enforcement used DNA from old rape kits that linked to family tree genetic databases. 

Tags California death penalty DNA East Area Rapist Golden State Killer guilty plea deal

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