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'That Skinny Ass Needs To Sit In A Courtroom,' GSK Victim's Daughter Says About Possible Plea Deal

Jennifer Carole, whose father Lyman Smith and stepmother Charlene Smith were brutally slain by the Golden State Killer, says she doesn't want Joseph DeAngelo to call the shots after his lawyers said in a motion that he was willing to plead guilty if he can avoid the death penalty.

By Gina Tron

The relative of two victims killed by the Golden State Killer says if he wants to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty, that’s fine, but it shouldn’t all be on his terms.

Jennifer Carole, whose father and stepmother were bludgeoned to death in 1980, told Oxygen.com, “He doesn’t get to win this, too. He got to have a whole life and now we finally have him and he doesn’t get to have it all go away. No, he wants to make it go away because it’s uncomfortable. That’s not okay.”

She’s referring to Joseph DeAngelo, 74, a former cop whom investigators believe is responsible for a heinous string of rapes and murders in six California jurisdictions during the '70s and '80s. He 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. His preliminary trial, which is supposed to determine if there is enough evidence to move forward to trial, has been scheduled for May 12. 

It appears the alleged serial killer is trying to avoid the messy trial altogether. A motion filed earlier this week by DeAngelo’s attorneys, obtained by Oxygen.com, states in one of its footnotes that, “Mr. DeAngelo is 74 years old. He has offered to plead to the charges with a lifetime sentence.”

Joseph Deangelo Ap

Carole told Oxygen.com that she would prefer if DeAngelo would wait until the preliminary hearing before making any plea.

“Here’s why: He doesn’t get to control the situation again,” she said. “This is not his show. He doesn’t get to make the rules. I absolutely believe he doesn’t want to sit in a courtroom for a trial of any kind and I'm here to tell you that’s exactly what I want even if it’s only a preliminary trial. That skinny ass needs to sit in a courtroom, at least for a preliminary trial to be held accountable.”

DeAngelo has been looking increasingly gaunt and thin since he was arrested in April 2018 after genetic analysis pointed to him as a suspect, triggering concerns about his age and health. Carole previously wrote in her blog that she suspects the defense’s strategy is to drag out the case as long as possible, citing DeAngelo’s age.

Carole said she can only speak for herself and knows that not all victims would agree with her reaction to his possible plea deal. 

“It’s really important to me, personally, that he be shown in court that there's enough evidence to hold him over to trial and then he can plea,” she said. She explained that she feels there are many people who still feel he may be innocent and this could show otherwise.

“We all have a right to know with a high degree of certainty that there is enough certainly to hold him over for trial, so let’s have the preliminary trial,” she said.

Her father Lyman Smith and stepmother Charlene Smith were murdered inside their Ventura County home in 1980 after DeAngelo allegedly broke in in the middle of the night. Lyman, 43, was a lawyer who was about to be appointed a Ventura County Superior Court judge and Charlene, 33, was a home decorator. Carole was still in high school at the time of their murders and told Oxygen.com, "I spent my whole adult life living a journey that he caused."

Carole referred to her decades long-struggle with the murders an “orchestra of emotions” and referred to this week as one of its “crescendos.” She doesn’t want to feel like DeAngelo continues to be the conductor behind it all.

“He doesn’t get to do this to us again,” she told Oxygen.com. “He’s just taking and taking.”

Kris Pedretti, who said she was raped by the Golden State Killer in 1976, appears to echo that sentiment in her conversation with the Los Angeles Times following the plea offer. While she said she would be okay with a plea deal, she said she would like some explanation from DeAngelo.

“He owes us answers,” she said. “Real answers.”

Mike Morford, who hosts numerous true crime podcasts, told Oxygen.com that the victims and survivors affected by the Golden State Killer’s reign of terror were looking forward to their day in court with DeAngelo.

He said that “a plea deal might rob them of that chance,” adding that “there’s no such thing as closure for any of them, but staring him down in court and taking back the power from him, might be healing in some fashion.”

He, along with co-host Mike Ferguson, has done more than a dozen episodes on the Golden State Killer on their podcast Criminology

However, Morford did say that overall he was “pleasantly surprised” to hear that DeAngelo might be willing to cut a deal.

“Surprised, because knowing what a coward he is, I never thought he would own up to the fact that he was the rapist of over 50 women and girls, and the murderer of at least 13 people,” he told Oxygen.com. “I felt that he would stall the system as long as he could without ever taking responsibility for his actions or providing answers of any kind.”

DeAngelo’s defense has declined to comment about the plea deal offer.