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The man accused of being the vicious and elusive Golden State Killer has offered to plead guilty if it means he can avoid the death penalty, according to a court filing.
Joseph DeAngelo, now 74, was arrested in April 2018 after genetic analysis pointed to him as a suspect in a string of rapes and murders in six California jurisdictions during the '70s and '80s. The former police officer has been charged with 13 murders and 18 of the more than 50 rapes he’s suspected of committing. His upcoming trial is expected to be complicated and costly with more than 100 witnesses and an estimated cost to taxpayers of around $20 million.
A new offer by DeAngelo’s attorneys is seeking to avoid that trial altogether. A letter, dated Feb. 25, has been reportedly sent from the defense to victims’ families and survivors of the Golden State Killer’s crime spree. It states, according to KOVR in Sacramento:
“Criminal cases often take many years to resolve by trial. The trial process is often very stressful for victims and their families. This particular case is exceedingly complex due to the number of charged crimes and the diverse locations of the charged crimes. We would like to reach a resolution of the case that avoids a trial, satisfies all parties and provides a more immediate resolution of the case. Such a resolution would hopefully provide closure for you. If avoiding the trial process appeals to you, we hope that you feel comfortable providing your input to both the District Attorney and the defense team."
Several relatives of Golden State Killer victims have not returned Oxygen.com’s request for comment.
“I would be OK with that,” Kris Pedretti, who said she was raped by the Golden State Killer in 1976, told the Los Angeles Times. “But in exchange, we want answers. Where he was. What he was doing. [...] He owes us answers [...] real answers.”
A motion filed earlier this week by DeAngelo’s attorneys states, “Mr. DeAngelo is 74 years old. He has offered to plead to the charges with a lifetime sentence,” a source familiar with the motion told Oxygen.com.
DeAngelo’s lawyers have also been trying to get all of his charges dismissed outside of Sacramento County, according to KOVR. Sacramento County is leading the six-county prosecution. The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office has not immediately returned Oxygen.com’s request for comment.
A judge rejected DeAngelo's request for a trial delay back in January. His defense had asked for extra time, until the end of the year, to review the evidence in the case so that they could be adequately prepared for a preliminary hearing. The judge went ahead and scheduled that preliminary hearing for May 12 instead. Just last week, the defense asked for more lawyers and more investigators to help bolster DeAngelo’s defense in preparation for trial. Meanwhile, they have been fighting prosecutors’ attempts to obtain more DNA samples from their client.
DeAngelo's alleged crimes, which authorities believe progressed from break-ins to rapes and murders, were at various points attributed in the public to unknown perpetrators with monikers such as the East Area Rapist, who targeted couples in their homes, restraining the men while he raped their partners. In some cases, he allegedly put dishes on the backs of the men while he raped the women, telling them that if any dishes broke, he’d kill them both.
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