The man accused of being the Golden State Killer is expected to plead guilty in Sacramento on Monday, more than two years after he was arrested using an investigative technique that has fundamentally changed how some violent crimes are solved in the United States.
In front of victims and their families, Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 74, is expected to plead guilty to a series of rapes and murders across California in the 1970s and ’80s. In addition, he’s also expected to admit guit for a multitude of crimes for which he was not charged, some of which passsed the statute of limitations, victims and victims’ family members who had been briefed on the plea deal said earlier this month.
The hearing, which is slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time, will be livestreamed from the Sacramento State University Ball Room, a space selected in part to accomodate in-person attendance amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. DeAngelo, a former police officer, had eluded the authorities for four decades before he was arrested in 2018 in a Sacramento suburb.
It was the first high-profile case to be cracked with genetic genealogy, a new technique that reles on identifying DNA collected at a crime scene by searching for the suspect’s relatives in genealogy databases. Investigators used a DNA sample that had been found at the scene of a double murder in Ventura County in 1980 to create a fake profile on a genealogy website. They were able to match the sample to distant relatives of Mr. DeAngelo.
As part of the plea deal, Mr. DeAngelo was expected to avoid the death penalty, a decision that has produced mixed feelings among some victims and their families, who are eager to see this chapter closed but also want to see a man who terrorized so many forced to confront the allegations.
Gay Hardwick, who was raped in 1978 while her now-husband Bob Hardwick was tied up, said earlier this month that it was difficult to think of any punishment as sufficient.
“My view has been he will never be able to serve a long enough sentence,” Ms. Hardwick said. “He’ll never serve the sentence that the rest of us have served.”
But, she added, “knowing that he has admitted responsibility is a big step toward closure for us.”
Mr. DeAngelo’s public defenders had sought to spare him from the death penalty, which California last used in 2006. Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in California, which he said had failed to deter violent crimes and disproportionately harmed people of color.
“I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” a documentary about the case and about Michelle McNamara, an author who spent years trying to solve it, aired on HBO on Sunday night.