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Crime News

Golden State Killer Suspect Joseph DeAngelo Ditches Wheelchair, Walks Into Court

His wheelchair suddenly gone, Joseph DeAngelo walked into a Sacramento courtroom on Monday.

By Gina Tron

Golden State Killer suspect Joseph DeAngelo was walking — and did not use a wheelchair at all — during his most recent court appearance, backing some experts' belief that it was all for show.

When DeAngelo walked into a Sacramento courtroom for a hearing Monday, it marked the first court appearance that the 72-year-old suspect wasn’t in a wheelchair. Instead, he walked into a steel cage located in the courtroom and stood.

His public defender Diane Howard told The Sacramento Bee she had nothing to say after she was asked if DeAngelo was feeling stronger.

“I’m not going to talk to you about his conditions,” she said.

DeAngelo was arrested last month and charged with murdering 12 people across California in the 1970s and 1980s. He has not yet entered pleas for any of the murders. Police believe that the Golden State Killer suspect is also the man dubbed the East Area Rapist, who raped dozens of women in California — but DeAngelo has not been charged with any of the over 50 rapes investigators suspect him of committing. 

On Monday, he made an appearance in court for a brief hearing about arrest records. Several media outlets have filed for the release of the suspect's arrest and search warrant records, documents that DeAngelo’s attorney wants sealed.

“The arrest and search warrant affidavits in this case detail allegations relating to what will inevitably be the biggest trial in California history,” DeAngelo’s attorneys wrote in a motion opposing the media’s attempts to obtain the documents, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

No decision was made and the hearing will continue on May 29.

Cameras, both still and video, were not allowed in court on Monday. Instead, a sketch artist drew an image of DeAngelo standing behind the steel bars of the courtroom cage. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Sweet has rejected any reporters who wanted an electronic documentation of the court hearing. Instead, they had to take notes, according to The Sacramento Bee.

Howard filed a motion Monday to exclude the media from pretrial hearings. She said the publicity is going to make it difficult to select an impartial jury.

As for the wheelchair, experts have debated if it was all an act.

Paul Holes, a recently-retired investigator with the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, said the frail appearance of DeAngelo isn't authentic at CrimeCon in Nashville earlier this month.

"Don’t believe this guy that you see being wheeled into court. That’s not who he is,” Holes said. “He has numerous registered guns in his house and he’s been going to the range to keep up his proficiency.”

[Photos: Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, Reuters]

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