Counties must choose how to try Golden State suspect
SANTA ANA » Law enforcement officials from Orange, Sacramento, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties are expected tomeet in the next few days to decide where the accused Golden State Killer will be prosecuted, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said there are “many issues to resolve” regarding the prosecution of Joseph James DeAngelo, who is suspected by the authorities of carrying out a dozenyear crime wave beginning in 1974 that included him killing at least 12 people across California, raping at least 45 and burglarizing hundreds of homes.
DeAngelo has been formally charged with eight slayings, including four in Orange County, two in Ventura County and two in Sacramento County. He has not yet entered a plea and is scheduled to return to a Sacramento courtroom on Monday.
Key among the issues yet to be worked out is whether DeAngelo will be prosecuted in multiple trials in the various counties, or if the charges will be consolidated for a single trial.
If consolidated, a team with prosecutors from all of the affected counties that have brought charges against DeAngelo could be put together, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said.
In recent years, Orange County prosecutors have handled several consolidated cases involving alleged crimes from other jurisdictions.
In the most high-profile example, Rodney Alcala was tried in one consolidated Orange County trial for the murders of four Los Angeles County women and one Orange County woman. The decision to consolidate those cases was made over Alcala’s repeated objections because the crimes had “common components” and for “judicial economy.”
Prosecutors won a conviction.
Convicted serial killer Andrew Urdiales is currently on trial for capital murder in Santa Ana for slayings carried out in Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties. John Laurence Whitaker is awaiting trial in Orange County for killings that occurred in Orange and Los Angeles counties.
Prosecutors are still working to determine whether the statute of limitations has passed for the suspected rapes DeAngelo is accused of carrying out. Even if he isn’t charged with those crimes directly, Orange County District Attorney’s Office officials said, the evidence tied to those alleged rapes could potentially be introduced in a murder trial to show that a similar method and motive tied together all of the various offenses.
In the meantime, a team led by former Orange County Senior Dep- uty District Attorney Debora Lloyd that was created months prior to DeAngelo’s arrest has shifted its focus from investigative work to trial preparation, going over the evidence collected by local law enforcement through the lengthy investigation. That effort focuses on the Orange County crimes.
Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, who authorities suspect is the so-called Golden State Killer responsible for at least 12murders and 45rapes in the 1970s and ’80s, is arraigned April 27in Sacramento. He is scheduled to return to court Monday.