Judge rules taxpayers will pay for defense of suspect
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.