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.”


Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of attacking settlements in disputed region

Updated 5 min 31 sec ago

Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of attacking settlements in disputed region

  • Armenia’s Defense Ministry said its troops downed 2 Azerbaijani helicopters and 3 drones in response to an attack
  • Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said it launched a military operation along the “contact line”

YEREVAN: Armenia said early on Sunday that neighboring Azerbaijan had attacked civilian settlements in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and urged the population in the disputed region to seek refuge in shelters.
Armenia’s Defense Ministry said that its troops had downed two Azerbaijani helicopters and three drones in response to an attack it said began at 0410 GMT against civilian settlements, including the regional capital of Stepanakert.
“Our response will be proportionate, and the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan bears full responsibility for the situation,” the Armenian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry, in turn, said it had launched a military operation along the “contact line,” a heavily-mined no-man’s-land that separates the Armenian-backed forces from Azeri troops in the region, Russian news agencies reported.
The ministry said that an Azerbaijani helicopter had been downed but that its crew had survived.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Sunday warned the international community of Turkish interference in fresh fighting that erupted between his country and Azerbaijan over the breakaway Nagorny Karabakh region.
"I call on the international community to use all existing levers to prevent Turkey's meddling (in the conflict) which can once and for all destabilise the (Caucasus) region," Pashinyan said in a televised statement.
He added that Turkish "aggressive behaviour causes serious concerns," and denounced Ankara's support for its ally Baku.

Meanwhile, Turkey vowed complete support for Baku and called on Armenia to give up its “aggression.”
“We will support our Azerbaijani brothers with all our means in their fight to protect their territorial integrity,” Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said in a statement.
Turkey is a key ally of Baku with close cultural and linguistic ties with Azerbaijan.
Ankara has no diplomatic relations with Yerevan due to a dispute over the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire which Armenia says is a genocide.
“The greatest obstacle to peace and stability in the Caucasus is Armenia’s aggression, and it should give up this aggression which will throw the region into fire,” Akar said.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin “strongly” condemned the clashes and said Armenia “once again violated international law and (has) shown that it has no interest in peace and stability.”
He called on the international community to “say stop to this dangerous provocation” in a tweet.
“Azerbaijan is not alone. It has Turkey's full support,” Kalin added.
The Turkish foreign ministry in a statement went further, promising: “However Azerbaijan wants, we will stand by Azerbaijan in that manner.”
The two former Soviet countries have long been in conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway, mainly ethnic-Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh, and border clashes have intensified in recent months.
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry condemned what it called the “aggression of the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan” and said the Armenian side would deliver an appropriate military and political response.
Ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence during a conflict that broke out as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Though a cease-fire was agreed in 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia frequently accuse each other of attacks around Nagorno-Karabakh and along the separate Azeri-Armenian frontier.