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'Amen!' Applause Breaks Out In Courtroom After Preliminary Hearing Scheduled For Golden State Killer Suspect

Suspected Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo's lawyers were hoping to have until the end of the year to prepare for a preliminary hearing, which will determine if the alleged killer will go to trial.

By Gina Tron
Joseph DeAngelo_AP

After a judge rejected the Golden State Killer suspect’s request for a trial delay, applause broke out in the courtroom gallery from a crowd that included some of his alleged victims.

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 numerous 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 accused of committing. 

On Wednesday, January 22, a judge set his preliminary hearing for the morning of May 12, a public information officer for the court told Oxygen.com. Additionally, a hearing for further proceedings in the case has been scheduled for the afternoon of March 4.

This marks progress toward DeAngelo’s trial.

DeAngelo’s 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. That hearing will determine whether or not DeAngelo will go to trial for his alleged decades-long crime spree.

“Given the number of charges in this case, the amount of discovery is extraordinary,” his public defenders Alice Michel and Joseph Cress wrote in their motion to request that delay, according to the Sacramento Bee. “If forced to set a preliminary hearing date at this time, the defense will be unable to provide competent and effective representation for Mr. DeAngelo.”

Jennifer Carole, daughter of suspected Golden State Killer victim Lyman Smith, 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.

"I am convinced that’s what DeAngelo wants: he ‘wins’ if he dies without a conviction,” she wrote in a response to Wednesday’s hearing, which she said she would have attended if she were not sick. “At 74 and a solid plan of self-depravation, it appeals to his strengths: planning, manipulation and control.”

Prosecutors Thien Ho and Amy Holliday fought the delay request in court on Wednesday.

“It was the defendant who decided to embark upon a crime spree that spanned 10 counties,” Ho argued. “It was the defendant who purposely evaded capture for 40 years and delayed the pendency of this case. It was the defendant who was allowed to enjoy his life before capture.”

As the prosecutors made their case, they noted that DeAngelo’s surviving alleged victims deserve to see the case move forward, a statement that prompted one person in the court to exclaim, “Amen!” the Sacramento Bee reports.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White sided with the prosecution after hearing from both sides in court, calling the defense’s desire to prolong the case until the next year “unreasonable.”

“This is January, and you are requesting to go to basically January of next year and have the preliminary hearing in 2021,” White said. “The people’s concern is very, very legitimate in terms of exigencies of mortality. People are not going to live forever, and it’s not the people’s fault that these crimes were committed so long ago.”

As White set the preliminary hearing date for May, the courtroom gallery erupted in applause, a public information officer for the court confirmed to Oxygen.com. Some victims of the Golden State Killer crime spree were present during Wednesday’s hearing.

Throughout the hearing, which lasted a little under 30 minutes, DeAngelo stood in a courtroom cage, looking gaunt and unemotional. He was accompanied by three sheriff’s deputies.