The Golden State Killer, 74-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo, will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole for a string of nearly 50 rapes and 13 slayings that terrorized California for decades. A Sacramento judge sentenced DeAngelo to multiple life sentences on Friday, burning an end to the case of one of the nation’s more infamous and prolific serial predators.
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The sentence was expected after DeAngelo reached a plea deal with prosecutors in six California counties. The plea required him to plead guilty or admit his guilt in dozens of crimes in exchange for being spared the possibility of the death penalty. DeAngelo showed no emotion as the sentence was read by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman. He sat in between his public defenders while wearing a surgical mask and a white sweatshirt.
Bowman praised the detectives and victims who worked to bring the serial rapist to justice, making sure DeAngelo understood the enormity of his awful crimes. He told the defendant, “When a person commits monstrous acts, they need to be locked away so they don’t hurt other people.” The two-hour sentencing hearing followed three days of testimonies from dozens of victims, who described in gruesome detail the attacks that left them robbed and scared of them of innocence and their loved ones.
Joseph DeAngelo was described as a “sick monster,” a “subhuman,” and a “horrible man.” The daughter of one of the victims raised her middle finger while testified, telling DeAngelo he could go to hell. Another detailed testimony spoke about how the girl woke up from a nap as a 7-year-old in the mid-70s to find DeAngelo wearing a mask standing over her mother who had been bound, gagged, and raped in their Sacramento-area home. The woman, who compared the killer to fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter, stated he had told her mother he might cut off her daughter’s ear and bring it to her if the girl woke the girl.
DeAngelo’s victims were numerous which is why the sentencing hearing was staged in Sacramento State University ballroom to make more space and offer social distancing due to the Coronavirus. DeAngelo, who never publicly addressed his crimes, stood up and offered an apology before he was sentenced. He stated, “I’ve listened to all your statements. Each one of them, and I am really sorry to everyone I’ve hurt.”DeAngelo’s spree of killing and raping stretched from 1975 to 1986 and spanned a wide geographical area that authorities initially thought there were multiple suspects. He was alternately known as the “East Area Rapist,” “The Original Night Stalker,” the “Visalia Ransacker,” and finally “The Golden State Killer.”