Photo: Randall Benton, Associated Press
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Joseph James DeAngelo, the man suspected of being the terrifyingly prolific Golden State Killer, appeared in court Wednesday for the first time in four months.
The Sacramento hearing lasted just about five minutes, and covered several pre-trial issues, the most noteworthy of which was when district attorneys from multiple counties announced they will seek the death penalty if DeAngelo is convicted.
DeAngelo, who stood off in a metal caged area throughout the hearing, appeared gaunt.
Lawyers from district attorney offices in Orange, Santa Barbara, Sacramento and Ventura all announced they would be pursuing the death penalty. Capital punishment was recently halted by Governor Gavin Newsom, who said he is pausing the death penalty for the duration of his administration.
DeAngelo has been charged with 13 counts of murder, among other charges, and investigators believe the former police officer may have raped over 50 women from 1975-86. The crime spree, which spanned Sacramento, Contra Costa, Orange, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties, created panic in the Sacramento area as dozens of women were victimized.
Gun sales rose dramatically and backyard lights were installed all over the county as locals tried to arm themselves against a suspect dubbed the East Area Rapist. Only later police realized the man’s range wasn’t confined to the eastern part of Sacramento; his prowling extended all over the state.
The Golden State Killer was known for creating personal connections to victims, including telling one victim he had seen her at the lake. It’s hard to know if the killer really had links to his victims, however. He broke into victims’ homes before he attacked, giving him ample access to family photos, letters and other identifying details.
The terror did not end with rape, however. In some cases, the rapist called his victims afterward. One victim, on the request of police, kept her phone number for years in the hopes the attacker would call and reveal identifying information.
Investigators announced DeAngelo’s arrest on April 25, 2018.
DeAngelo is due back in court on Aug. 22. As part of Wednesday’s hearing, cameras will be allowed in. DeAngelo’s lawyers argued televising the proceedings would harm his right to a fair trial; the judge ruled cameras may continue to film inside the court room.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/joseph-deangelo-hearing-sacramento-trial-13757418.php.