Man accused of being ‘Golden State Killer’ to plead guilty

Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, who authorities said was identified by DNA evidence as the serial predator dubbed the Golden State Killer, appears at his arraignment in California Superior court in Sacramento, California, U.S., April 27, 2018. (REUTERS)
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Updated 16 June 2020

Man accused of being ‘Golden State Killer’ to plead guilty

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom has halted executions so long as he is governor, though the death penalty remains legal in California

SACRAMENTO, California: A man accused of being the rapist and killer who terrorized California residents in the 1970s and 1980s has agreed to plead guilty to dozens of crimes in return for being spared the death penalty, a law enforcement source and a victim’s relative said Monday.
Joseph DeAngelo, a former police officer accused of being the Golden State Killer, is expected to plead guilty on June 29 and be sentenced in August to life without the possibility of parole after the surviving victims and relatives of those killed confront him in court.
“We are so totally supportive of the death penalty and yet we are totally supportive of this decision to let the Golden State Killer plead to life without possibility of parole,” said Ron Harrington. His younger brother, Keith, and new sister-in-law, Patti, were beaten to death in their Orange County home in August 1980.
“Almost 40 years have passed and literally some of the victims have passed away, there are foundational issues from an evidentiary standpoint,” he explained. “You’ve got victims who have now passed away, how are they going to testify?”
Sacramento County public defenders did not respond to telephone and email requests for comment about their 74-year-old client, who appeared increasingly frail at his last court appearance in March.
District attorneys in six counties that had been seeking the death penalty issued a joint statement that did not address that issue, but noted the scope of crimes that started more than four decades ago and involved dozens of victims across 11 counties over more than a decade.
DeAngelo was identified only when investigators secretly collected DNA more than two years ago that they say proves he is the one who broke into couples’ suburban homes at night. The armed and masked rapist would tie up the man and pile dishes on his back, threatening to kill both victims if he heard the plates fall while he assaulted the woman.
“Victims of a crime are entitled to finality in their criminal cases, as well as the expectation that the person convicted of committing the crime will be punished,” the prosecutors said. They said their offices “are working closely with the victims in this case to ensure their statements are considered by the Court prior to sentencing.”
The prosecutors said they “have a moral and ethical responsibility to consider any offer from the defense, given the massive scope of the case (and) the advanced age of many of the victims and witnesses.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom has halted executions so long as he is governor, though the death penalty remains legal in California.
Harrington said the decision was made about two weeks ago after prosecutors consulted with survivors and swore them to secrecy until the news was first reported by The Sacramento Bee.
He expects a day-long hearing just to read all the charges, and for the hearing to be held in an as yet undetermined venue larger than any courtroom just to keep the dozens of victims and spectators at a safe distance during the coronavirus pandemic.
DeAngelo is suspected of at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes across California. In many of the rapes, Harrington said, “the statute of limitations has run and he could not be formally charged with them, but it’s my understanding he is going to formally acknowledge or plead to them as well.”
Sentencing may well span several days in mid-August, Harrington said, because each survivor or family member will have a chance to confront DeAngelo in person, by video or writing.
There was a consensus among survivors to go along with the plea deal, Harrington said he was told.
“Too many victims have passed and there’s a lot of other people — not just our case — that wanted closure,” Harrington said. “We’re getting closer to as much closure as we can obtain.”


Belarus authorities free detainees amid protesters’ pressure

Updated 4 min 12 sec ago

Belarus authorities free detainees amid protesters’ pressure

  • Around midnight, scores of detainees were seen walking out of one of Minsk’s jails
  • The releases came hours after Belarus’ top law enforcement official apologized on state television for the indiscriminate use of force by police

MINSK, Belarus: Belarusian authorities have released dozens of people detained amid demonstrations contesting the the results of the presidential election, in an attempt to assuage public anger against a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests.
Around midnight, scores of detainees were seen walking out of one of Minsk’s jails. In the early morning, volunteers also saw at least 119 detainees being released in the сity of Zhodino just northeast of the Belarusian capital. Ambulances arrived to carry those who apparently were unable to walk on their own.
The releases came hours after Belarus’ top law enforcement official apologized on state television for the indiscriminate use of force by police. “I take responsibility for what they say was violence against those people, who happened to be nearby and failed to back off quickly enough,” Interior Minister Yuri Karayev said late Thursday.
The apologies and the release of detainees follow five days of massive protests, in which crowds of demonstrators swarmed the streets to contest the vote results and demand an end to the 26-year rule of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. On Thursday, thousands of workers rallied outside industrial plants to denounce the police crackdown and push for a recount of Sunday’s vote.
Nearly 7,000 people have been detained and hundreds injured in the clampdown on demonstrators protesting the official results that said Lukashenko won 80% of the vote and his top opposition challenger only 10%. Police have broken up protests with stun grenades, tear gas, rubber bullets and severe beatings.
On Thursday, hundreds of women formed long “lines of solidarity” in several areas of the capital, Minsk. Many were dressed in white and carried flowers and portraits of detained loved ones.
The human chains grew throughout the day, filling Minsk’s main central squares and avenues and spreading to numerous other cities as motorists honked in support. In Minsk and several other cities, thousands of factory workers also rallied against the police violence, raising the prospect of strikes in a new challenge to the government. Protesters were shouting “Go away!” to demand Lukashenko’s resignation.
Amid growing public dismay, dozens of military and police veterans posted videos in which they dumped their uniforms and insignia in the trash. Several popular anchors at Belarus’ state TV stations have quit.
The demonstrations have spread even though the protest lacks leaders. The top opposition challenger in the vote, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, suddenly emerged Tuesday in neighboring Lithuania and called on her supporters to stop protests in a video that her associates said was recorded under pressure from law enforcement officials before she left. The 37-year-old former teacher had joined the race to replace her husband, an opposition blogger, who has been jailed since May.
The massive protests against election results and police brutality have been an unprecedented challenge to Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994 and earned the nickname of “Europe’s last dictator” for his relentless crackdown on dissent. The scope and ferocity of the police clampdown were remarkable even for Lukashenko’s iron-fisted rule, triggering widespread anger.
After dismissing protesters as mostly ex-convicts and unemployed, the authoritarian leader kept silent Thursday as the demonstrations spread quickly. Some reports said he was preparing an address to the nation.
A protester died Monday in Minsk when, according to the Interior Ministry, an explosive device he tried to throw at police blew up in his hand. Media reports challenged the ministry’s claim, alleging that he was killed by police. The place where he died quickly turned into a pilgrimage site, with hundreds of people, including European ambassadors, laying flowers there.
The authorities said that a detainee died in the southeastern city of Gomel, but the circumstances of his death weren’t immediately clear.
The brutal suppression of protests drew harsh criticism in the West.
European Union foreign ministers are set to meet Friday to discuss a response, and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the 27-nation bloc would “increase the pressure” on Belarus.