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Golden State Killer Sentencing Hearing


Update – August 21, 2020, 3:25 p.m.: The defendant was formally sentenced to life in prison. Learn more here.


Joseph James DeAngelo, 74, is scheduled to be sentenced this week for 13 counts of murder and other charges. The defendant, better known as the Golden State Killer, pleaded guilty in June to a long stretch of horrifying crimes running from the 1970s to the 1980s in California.

He was the man responsible over a dozen slayings, 50 rapes, and more than a hundred burglaries. The “Golden State Killer” was known for pointedly terrorizing the people he targeted, sometimes putting dishes on a person’s back to serve as an “alarm system” while he explored the residence or sexually assaulted another person. The ultimatum: stay still, or die. He attempted to bully some even after the crimes, taunting them in phone calls.

Now survivors will get a chance to speak. Victim impact statements are set for the first three days. The tentative schedule goes like this:

  • Tuesday, August 18: 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. Sexual assault survivors speak.
  • Wednesday, August 19: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. PT. Sexual assault survivors speak.
  • Thursday, August 20: 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. Family members of murder victims speak.
  • Friday, August 21: 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. PT. DeAngelo will be formally sentenced.

The Golden State Killer operated in apparent impunity for years, then dropped out of sight. But times change, and so does technology. Investigators tracked down the suspect after putting his DNA in a genealogical database and tracked him down through relatives. They identified their subject as DeAngelo, a former Exter police officer fired from the agency in 1979 for shoplifting a hammer and dog repellent.

DeAngelo appeared in court after his April 24, 2018 arrest riding a wheelchair, appearing deathly frail.

The state maintains he is absolutely full of it. In June’s sentencing, Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Thien Ho said DeAngelo “feigned feeble incoherence” when confronted by authorities with his crimes in an interview after his arrest. But the defendant was racing his motorcycle on a freeway weeks before and was “vigorously” doing yard work just hours before the arrest, the prosecutor said.

In a hearing Monday, the state said there was video of DeAngelo moving athletically around his cell, according to The Sacramento Bee. The judge said this was irrelevant, and so the footage would not be played at the sentencing because the defense never cited his alleged frailty as a factor in the case.

“Mr. DeAngelo has never put his physical infirmity as an issue,” Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman said, “He’s never had counsel approach the court for leniency because of it.”

The DVD of the footage will remain in the case file, however.

[Mugshot via Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department]

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