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Taxpayers On The Hook For Golden State Killer Suspect's Defense As Judge Rules Joseph DeAngelo Indigent

The judge also struck down the defense’s request to exclude media coverage of Joseph DeAngelo's trial.

By Ethan Harfenist

A judge in the Golden State Killer case on Thursday declared that suspect Joseph DeAngelo is indigent and will therefore continue to be represented by a public attorney.

The massive case could take a decade to litigate.

“It will take an extraordinary amount of resources to litigate the charges in this case ...” Judge Michael Sweet said, according to the Sacramento Bee. “He’s not going to have the sufficient means or ability.”

DeAngelo, 73, could, however, end up being responsbile for the cost depending on the outcome of the case.

In addition to ruling on his indigence, Sweet also struck down the defense’s request to bar media coverage of the trial.

Sweet stated that any curiosity or interest that the case has generated across the country will not have any impact on DeAngelo’s ability to receive a fair trial, according to the Bee.

DeAngelo, whose alleged crimes throughout the 1970s and 80s have also earned him the monikers East Area Rapist and Original Night Stalker. He faces charges related to 13 murders and 13 rapes. He's supected of raping more than 50 women, but since the statute of limitations has passed on bringing rape cases, prosecutors charged him with 13 kidnapping-related charges.

The suspected serial killer would monitor suburban neighborhoods and sneak into homes at night, authorities said. If a couple was home, he would tie up the man, place dishes on his back and threaten to kill both victims if he heard the plates fall onto the floor while he raped the woman.

DeAngelo’s  trial could cost taxpayers more than $20 million.

A Sacramento County official said Wednesday the county has asked the state to help shoulder the costs for prosecuting Joseph DeAngelo.

"While the current estimate is more than $20 million, it is impossible at this point to accurately estimate all costs. We anticipate the complexities of the case, including 40 years of evidence, to greatly affect the final cost," said Natasha Drane of the county's office of Governmental Relations and Legislation.

The $20 million estimate includes the prosecution and defense of DeAngelo, Drane said. He's been represented by a public defender since his arrest in April.

DeAngelo’s crimes are said to have  began in 1975 and stopped in 1986. In the decades following, the search for a suspect known by nicknames such as the Golden State Killer and the East Area Rapist frustrated investigators and left victims' families without answers. Finally in early 2018 investigators used DNA and a genealogical website to identify and arrest DeAngelo as the alleged killer. He has not entered a plea.

His next hearing is scheduled for April 10.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

[Photo: Joseph DeAngelo, shown earlier this year in court; Credit: Getty]