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Attorneys representing Golden State Killer suspect Joseph DeAngelo said they're struggling to prepare for an impending preliminary hearing and plainly stated they want the case resolved.
“We want to settle the case,” public defender Alice Michel said Thursday during a hearing primarily aimed at addressing the prosecution’s desire to obtain further DNA from DeAngelo. “We’ve made that very clear.”
DeAngelo, 74, is accused of committing 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.
DeAngelo’s attorneys have put forth an offer to avoid that trial altogether. A motion filed last week by DeAngelo’s attorneys, obtained by Oxygen.com, states, “Mr. DeAngelo is 74 years old. He has offered to plead to the charges with a lifetime sentence.”
Currently, he faces the death penalty if his case makes it to trial.
Defense attorneys also reportedly sent a letter to victims’ families and survivors of the Golden State Killer’s crime spree in late February, which states in part: “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,” according to KOVR in Sacramento.
A lack of clarity about who is in a position to approve such a deal is a stumbling block, Michel said in court, stating that the joint prosecution among several California counties is “confusing” to the defense.
“Who's in charge?” she asked. “Who gets to make decisions?”
Prosecutor Thien Ho said that the offer is being evaluated amongst all the relevant district attorney’s offices.
Michel also complained that the defense team hasn't received various requested documents and pieces of discovery, including witness lists, that they say they need to prepare for DeAngelo’s preliminary hearing on May 12. That proceeding is supposed to determine if there is enough evidence to move forward to trial.
Back in January, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White rejected the defense’s request for a trial delay. They 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. They also recently asked for more lawyers and more investigators.
Michel called the impending preliminary hearing an “impossible situation for us,” due to the inability to obtain discovery documents.
A ghastly looking DeAngelo remained quiet in a courtroom cage during the hearing, as the defense and the prosecution squabbled. He sat with his mouth agape for most of the hearing, but did seem to be listening intently.
Ho argued prosecutors have been cooperative in the discovery requests. He said that some of the witness lists are not yet complete because prosecutors are still fine-tuning them.
White appeared to sympathize with some of Michel's frustrations, telling her that the defense should know if they need to address their offer with all jurisdictions separately or if there is one person representing them all.
The judge suggested that the defense and the prosecution meet to find “a remedy.” If that doesn’t work out, he said a motion should be filed to assist.
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