Judge rules tax­pay­ers will pay for de­fense of sus­pect

The Mercury News Weekend - - LOCAL NEWS - By Sam Stan­ton

The sus­pect in the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer case is con­sid­ered in­di­gent un­der the law and en­ti­tled to have Sacra­mento County pub­lic de­fend­ers rep­re­sent him in a case that could last an­other 10 years, a judge ruled Thurs­day.

“I’ve de­ter­mined he is not able to af­ford his own de­fense,” Sacra­mento Su­pe­rior Court Judge Michael Sweet de­clared as sus­pect Joseph James DeAn­gelo stood in a court­room cage nearby watch­ing im­pas­sively.

DeAn­gelo, a for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer, Navy vet­eran and me­chanic who owns a Citrus Heights home, au­to­mo­biles and a mo­tor­cy­cle, is fac­ing 13 mur­der charges and 13 rape- re­lated charges in a string of crimes in the 1970s and 1980s that spanned the length of the state.

Sweet, act­ing on a mo­tion from pros­e­cu­tors who wanted DeAn­gelo’s fi­nances stud­ied, said he had re­viewed DeAn­gelo’s fi­nan­cial state and de­ter­mined that, given the na­ture of the case, the sus­pect can­not af­ford to hire a pri­vate at­tor­ney.

“It will take an ex­tra­or­di­nary amount of re­sources to lit­i­gate the charges in this case …” Sweet said. “He’s not go­ing to have the suf­fi­cient means or abil­ity.”

The de­ci­sion means tax­pay­ers will foot the bill for his de­fense, although Sweet warned DeAn­gelo that at the con­clu­sion of the trial he could be held re­spon­si­ble for the costs.

DeAn­gelo turned 73 last month while be­ing held in the Sacra­mento County Main Jail, and his trial is ex­pected to be one of the largest of its kind in Cal­i­for­nia’s his­tory.

He faces charges in six dif fer­ent coun­ties and will be tried in a Sacra­mento court­room un­der a joint prose­cu­tion ef­fort that will be led by Sacra­mento Dis­trict At­tor­ney Anne Marie Schu­bert’s of­fice.

Pros­e­cu­tors have been work­ing out how to share the cost bur­den of the trial, and on Thurs­day deputy dis­trict at­tor­neys from all six coun­ties were present, with Deb­ora Lloyd of Orange County han­dling most of the brief hear­ing.

The judge re­jected a mo­tion by pub­lic de­fender Diane Howard to clear me­dia from the hear­ing, a stand­ing re­quest she has made since DeAn­gelo’s ar­rest in April.

“This case has great pub­lic in­ter­est, not only na­tion­ally but in­ter­na­tion­ally,” the judge ruled.

DeAn­gelo is due back in court for his next hear­ing April 10. As the ses­sions have set­tled into some­what of a rou­tine, the me­dia and pub­lic in­ter­est have waned slightly.


Joseph James DeAn­gelo is fac­ing 13 mur­der charges and 13 rape-re­lated charges in a string of crimes in the 1970s and 1980s that spanned the length of the state.

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