'Golden State Killer' Pleads Guilty To 26 Charges

Megan Goldsby
June 28, 2020 - 8:13 pm
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    Related: Genealogy Websites Led Investigators To Golden State Killer

    The man accused of terrorizing California in the 1970s and 1980s pled guilty on Monday morning to 26 charges for his infamous alleged crimes in Sacramento.

    The Golden State Killer was responsible for at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes in a crime spree that spanned 11 counties from 1974 through mid-1986.

    Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., was arrested in 2018 in Sacramento County after eluding investigators for years. It was only the pioneering use of new DNA techniques that led investigators to DeAngelowho is a former police officer himself.

    "I’m not thrilled that he’s pleading, but I kind of am," said Jennifer Carole, the daughter of Lyman Smith, a lawyer who was slain in 1980 at age 43 in Ventura County. His wife, 33-year-old Charlene Smith, was also raped and killed.

     Law enforcement officials leave the home of accused rapist and killer Joseph James DeAngelo on April 24, 2018 in Citrus Heights, California.
    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    "We really, really wanted him to at least make it to the preliminary hearing, which would have provided all of us a lot more evidence than just the DNA evidence that has solidly linked him to these crimes," Carole said.

    Early on in the investigations, certain crimes were connected to an armed and masked rapist who would break into sleeping couples’ suburban homes at night, binding the man and piling dishes on his back. He would threaten to kill both victims if he heard the plates fall while he raped the woman.

    "People were absolutely paralyzed with fear and changed the way they lived their lives, so that’s not something that just gets scrubbed even with the passage of time," former Sacramento County John McGinness said.

    County prosecutors announced that in addition to the 26 charges, DeAngelo will admit responsibility for other uncharged crimes, including raping multiple women.

    Judge Michael G. Bownman said that DeAngelo is expected to receive a life sentence without parole. 

    The deal will spare the 74-year-old any chance of the death penalty for 13 murders and 13 kidnapping-related charges spanning six counties.

    In a setting due to social distancing guidelines in place during the coronavirus pandemic, Monday’s hearing took place in a Sacramento State University ballroom pressed into use as a courtroom.