Judge OKs DNA tests from Golden State Killer
SACRAMENTO >> A Northern California judge on Thursday approved prosecutors’ request to take more DNA samples from a man charged with being the infamous “Golden State Killer” who eluded arrest for decades.
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Steve White also told prosecutors to informally decide who is empowered to consider defense attorneys’ offer have Joseph James DeAngelo plead guilty in exchange for avoiding the death penalty. So far, prosecutors have not wavered from their intent to seek DeAngelo’s execution if he is convicted.
The 74-year-old former police officer is suspected of at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes across California in the 1970s and 1980s. Six counties have consolidated their cases in Sacramento County, and four of those counties are seeking the death penalty.
“Who’s in charge? Who can make decisions? We want to settle the case,” said defense attorney Alice Michel, adding later that “I don’t know who I’m supposed to talk to.”
Defense attorneys questioned in court filings whether Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert could alone negotiate a plea deal, of if she would have to have agreement from prosecutors in Santa Barbara, Orange and Ventura counties. He also faces lesser penalties from Tulare and Contra Costa counties.
That “is something that you probably should be entitled to know,” White said while urging the attorneys to work it out among themselves.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has a moratorium on executions while he is governor. But DeAngelo’s trial is likely several years away after what is projected to be a weeks-long preliminary hearing set to begin in May.
White allowed prosecutors, over defense objections, to take four more cheek-swab DNA samples from DeAngelo as they try to link him to old crimes.
Investigators surreptitiously collected DNA from DeAngelo more than two years ago that they say proves he is the rapist who broke into couples’ suburban homes at night, binding the man and piling dishes on his back. The armed and masked rapist would threaten to kill both victims if he heard the plates fall while he raped the woman.
Joseph James DeAngelo, charged with being the Golden State Killer, talks with his attorney, Diane Howard, during his appearance in Sacramento County Superior Court in Sacramento on Thursday.