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.”


Australia plans disposal of hundreds of stranded whale carcasses

Updated 1 min 38 sec ago

Australia plans disposal of hundreds of stranded whale carcasses

  • Rescuers had managed to free around 70 of the long-finned pilot whales beached off the country’s remote southern coast
  • A rescue team of more than 60 government scientists and volunteers had dashed to the remote location
SYDNEY: Australian officials on Thursday began planning the grim task of disposing of almost 400 whale carcasses as hopes faded there would be many more survivors of one of the world’s biggest mass strandings of the mammals.
Rescuers had managed to free around 70 of the long-finned pilot whales beached off the country’s remote southern coast by Thursday afternoon. The majority of those freed had reached deeper water, officials said, but four were likely to be euthanized and others might return when the tide turns.
The clock was ticking for the remaining 20 whales still floundering in shallow water on a wide sandbank, four days after the 470-strong pod was first spotted off the northwest coast of the island state of Tasmania.
“Beyond the next 24 hours, any remaining animals that are alive will be less viable,” said Nic Deka, the incident controller for the state government’s Parks and Wildlife Service.
As result, authorities were developing a plan to dispose of at least 380 whales at sea, an operation that Deka said could take days.
“Our preference is for disposal at sea, we’re still taking expert advice as to exactly where the drop off point may be,” Deka said, noting the decomposing whales could pose an environmental health risk.
Marine biologists warned the task would be tricky.
“Dealing with over 400 dead whales is a real problem,” said Vanessa Pirotta, a marine scientist at the Macquarie University. “(It) would have to be very far out.”
The stranding, the biggest on record in modern Australia, has drawn attention to a natural phenomenon that remains largely a mystery to scientists.
A rescue team of more than 60 government scientists and volunteers had dashed to the remote location, braving freezing cold waters in an arduous refloating process. As many as four or five people per whale were needed to attach slings to the animals and guide them as they were pulled to deeper water by boats.