California prosecutors to seek the death penalty in ‘Golden State Killer’ case

California prosecutors to seek the death penalty in 'Golden State Killer' case
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California prosecutors to seek the death penalty in ‘Golden State Killer’ case

Joseph James DeAngelo is suspected of being the Golden State Killer and East Area Rapist.
Joseph James DeAngelo is suspected of being the Golden State Killer and East Area Rapist.

Unregarding the death penalty moratorium by Gov. Gavin Newsom, attorneys in four counties of California announced before a court that they would seek the death penalty against the suspected Golden State Killer / East Area Rapist Joseph James DeAngelo if he is convicted.

The 73-year-old DeAngelo had no visible reaction as he stood in a cell inside a Sacramento Superior Courtroom on the first floor of the county’s main jail building downtown.

Clasping his hands together in front of him and sporting a closely shaved head, DeAngelo stared straight ahead as prosecutors from Sacramento, Orange, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties said they would pursue a death sentence if he is convicted in any of the 12 slayings he is accused of committing in those counties in the 1970s and 1980s.

A 13th murder in Tulare County in 1975 will not be prosecuted as a death penalty case because capital punishment did not exist in California at the time of that killing.

Prosecutors from those counties and Contra Costa, where he is accused of four kidnaps for robbery cases that stem from sexual assaults, are working together to try DeAngelo in a Sacramento courtroom for the slayings and 13 rapes — including nine in Sacramento — that are being charged as kidnap for robbery counts.

Outside the courtroom, Ron Harrington stood surrounded by reporters to say he was “thrilled” by the announcement.

Harrington’s younger brother Keith and Keith’s wife Patty were newlyweds when they were bludgeoned to death in their Orange County home by the man prosecutors believe to be the Golden State Killer.

In the decades since their brutal killing, Harrington and brother Bruce have championed the use of the DNA crime-solving technology that led investigators to DeAngelo a year ago.

“The Golden State Killer is the worst of the worst: 13 murders, 50-plus rapes. He is the most prolific murderer-rapist not only in California, but the United States,” Harrington said, fixing his eyes on reporters. “We are thrilled with the decision to seek the death penalty.”

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert and other prosecutors have previously argued that Newsom’s moratorium has no impact on their ability to seek death penalty sentences.

The five-county prosecutors met with Schubert earlier at her downtown Sacramento offices ahead of the afternoon announcement, said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, calling the meeting part of a “very comprehensive process.”

“We were unanimous in our decision,” to seek the death penalty, Spitzer said outside Sacramento County Main Jail following the hearing.

The district attorneys also sent a letter to DeAngelo’s defense team saying that they were willing to hear out defense arguments against a death sentence for the accused serial killer and rapist, Spitzer said.


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John Smith has been with Histecho since 2017, A Senior Editor & Writer for Histecho. his work has been featured in outlets such as Scientific American, The Washington Post, NBC News, and Fox News. John grew up outside of Philadelphia and studied biology at Hamilton College in upstate New York.