Despite California’s current state moratorium against the death penalty, prosecutors are still seeking the ultimate punishment for a man suspected of terrorizing the state through a series of murders and rapes during the 1970s and 1980s.
Prosecutors from each of the counties that Joseph DeAngelo is accused of murder said in a pre-trial hearing held on Wednesday that they will be seeking out the death penalty for him if he is convicted of the crimes he’s accused of committing.
As the first of several prosecutors made that announcement, an audible gasp could be heard in the audience of the Sacramento Superior Court.
Earlier this year, the governor of California halted all executions in the state.
The suspected serial killer and rapist looked thinner and more gaunt than this previous appearances. He stood stoically as the prosecutors announced they were possibly seeking to end his life during the brief hearing.
DeAngelo, a 73-year-old former police officer, is allegedly responsible for a string of murders and rapes committed throughout California during the 1970s and '80s. He was arrested last April after genetic analysis pointed to him a suspect. DeAngelo was subsequently charged with 13 murders and 18 of the more than 50 rapes he’s accused of committing.
His alleged crime sprees, which authorities believe progressed from break-ins to rapes and murders, were at various points attributed in the public to unknown perpetrators, such as the East Area Rapist, who targeted couples in their homes, restraining the men while he raped their partners. In some cases, he allegedly put dishes on the backs of the men while he raped the women, telling them that if any dishes broke, he’d kill them both.
At the end of Wednesday’s hearing, DeAngelo could be seen speaking to his attorney, who did not comment publicly on the prosecution’s decision.
Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a moratorium on executions and a temporary reprieve for all death row inmates, a moratorium that is expected to last for his entire term.
DeAngelo’s trial is expected to last several years cost taxpayers millions.
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