Golden State Killer Suspect Pleading Guilty to 13 Murders

Joseph DeAngelo 74 accused of being the Golden State Killer pleaded guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder and more than 25 other counts in Sacramento on Monday. Screenshot via Sacramento Superior Court

The so-called "Golden State Killer" pleaded guilty to multiple murders Monday, as well admitting to dozens of rapes and kidnappings, drawing a line under a sadistic crime spree that terrorized California for two decades.

DeAngelo's guilty plea will result in 11 consecutive life sentences to state prison without the possibility of parole.

In the first case, Deangelo pleaded guilty in the 1975 shooting death of Visalia resident Claude Snelling, 45, who was killed as he tried to protect his daughter from being kidnapped by an unknown man who had broken into the family's home. With over 150 victims and relatives expected to attend, prosecutors sought a room that would be large enough to accommodate them and promote social distancing, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Camera IconJane Carson-Sandler, a 1976 rape victim of Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo, stands and gives a double thumbs -up to agree with a prosecutor's statement about part of DeAngelo's anatomy, during a court hearing in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, June 29, 2020.

In 1979, DeAngelo was sacked from the police department in Auburn, California for shoplifting a hammer and a can of dog repellent.

He was initially charged with only the 1978 murders of Brian and Katie Maggiore, a newlywed couple who were shot dead in Rancho Cordova, a Sacramento suburb, while walking their dog.

No crimes were attributed to the "Golden State Killer" from July 1981 until 1986, when 18-year-old Janelle Cruz was raped and murdered in Irvine.

In addition to 13 murders and kidnappings, prosecutors said DeAngelo was known to have committed almost 50 rapes in all and more than 120 burglaries in and around Sacramento, the eastern San Francisco Bay area and Southern California.

"The family members of the murder victims have waited for decades for justice for their loved ones, the sexual assault victims have waited decades for justice", she said.

The statute of limitations for the rapes and abductions have expired.

Investigators identified him using a then-novel investigative technique known as genetic genealogy that combines DNA analysis with genealogical research.

"They deserve the opportunity, the victims and the next of kin, to be present when the verdicts are finally read", said Amy Holliday, deputy district attorney for Sacramento County.

Once authorities zeroed in on DeAngelo, they surveilled him and collected his DNA from a tissue left in a trash. He was arrested at his Citrus Heights home on April 25, 2018.

When the lengthy hearing has concluded, he will have pleaded guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder and special circumstances (including murder committed during burglaries and rapes), as well as 13 counts of kidnapping, the prosecution said.

Formal sentencing was set to begin on August 17.

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