Golden State Killer sus­pect is set to plead guilty to mul­ti­ple charges

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - NATION & WORLD - BY DON THOMP­SON

SACRA­MENTO, Calif. — Forty years after a sadis­tic subur­ban rapist ter­ror­ized Cal­i­for­nia in what in­ves­ti­ga­tors later re­al­ized was a se­ries of linked as­saults and killings, a 74-yearold for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer is ex­pected to plead guilty Mon­day to be­ing the elu­sive Golden State Killer.

The deal will spare Joseph

James DeAn­gelo Jr. any chance of the death penalty for 13 mur­ders and 13 kid­nap­ping-re­lated charges across six coun­ties. In par­tial re­turn, sur­vivors of the as­saults that spanned the 1970s and 1980s ex­pect him to ad­mit to up to 62 rapes that he could not be crim­i­nally charged with be­cause too much time has passed.

Yet noth­ing is cer­tain un­til he ac­tu­ally speaks in a Sacra­mento State Univer­sity ball­room pressed into use as a court­room to pro­vide for so­cial dis­tanc­ing dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

“I’ve been on pins and nee­dles be­cause I just don’t like that our lives are tied to him, again,” said Jen­nifer Ca­role, the daugh­ter of Ly­man Smith, a lawyer who was slain in 1980 at age 43 in Ven­tura County. His wife, 33-yearold Char­lene Smith, was raped and killed.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors early on con­nected cer­tain crimes to an armed and masked rapist who would break into sleep­ing cou­ples’ subur­ban homes, bind­ing the man and pil­ing dishes on his back. He would threaten to kill both vic­tims if he heard the plates fall while he raped the wo­man.

Gay and Bob Hard­wick were among the sur­vivors.

They are now look­ing for­ward to DeAn­gelo ad­mit­ting to that 1978 as­sault. The death penalty was never re­al­is­tic any­way, she said, given DeAn­gelo’s age and Gov. Gavin New­som’s mora­to­rium on ex­e­cu­tions.

“He cer­tainly does de­serve to die, in my view, so I am see­ing that he is trad­ing the death penalty for death in prison,” she said.

“It will be good to put the thing to rest. I think he will never serve the sen­tence that we have served — we’ve served the sen­tence for 42 years.”

A guilty plea and life sen­tence avoids a trial or even the planned week­s­long pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing. The vic­tims ex­pect to con­front him at his sen­tenc­ing in Au­gust, where it’s ex­pected to take sev­eral

days to tell DeAn­gelo and Sacra­mento County Su­pe­rior Court Judge Michael Bow­man what they have suf­fered.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors fi­nally con­nected a se­ries of as­saults in cen­tral and North­ern Cal­i­for­nia to later slay­ings in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and set­tled on the um­brella Golden State Killer name for the mys­te­ri­ous as­sailant whose crimes spanned 11 coun­ties from 1974 through mid-1986.

The mys­tery sparked world­wide in­ter­est, a best­selling book and a six-part HBO doc­u­men­tary, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” that pre­miered Sun­day.

It was only the pi­o­neer­ing use of DNA tech­niques that two years ago led in­ves­ti­ga­tors to DeAn­gelo, who was fired from the Auburn Po­lice Depart­ment north­east of Sacra­mento in 1979 after he was caught shoplift­ing dog re­pel­lent and a ham­mer. He pre­vi­ously had worked as a po­lice of­fi­cer in the Cen­tral Val­ley town of Ex­eter from 1973 to 1976.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors painstak­ingly built a fam­ily tree by link­ing decades-old crime scene DNA to a dis­tant rel­a­tive through a pop­u­lar on­line DNA data­base. They even­tu­ally nar­rowed in on DeAn­gelo with a process that has since been used in other cases na­tion­wide, but said they con­firmed the link only after sur­rep­ti­tiously col­lect­ing his DNA from his car door and a dis­carded tis­sue.

His de­fense at­tor­neys have pub­licly lob­bied since then for a deal that would spare him the death penalty, though they did not re­spond to re­peated re­quests for com­ment be­fore Mon­day’s hear­ing.

Pros­e­cu­tors who had sought the death penalty cited the mas­sively com­pli­cated case and the ad­vanc­ing age of many of the vic­tims and wit­nesses in agree­ing to con­sider the plea bar­gain.


The deal will spare Joseph James DeAn­gelo Jr. any chance of the death penalty for 13 mur­ders and 13 kid­nap­pin­gre­lated charges across six coun­ties of Cal­i­for­nia.

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