Suspected Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo will be tried on multiple murder counts in a single trial in Sacramento, California, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Authorities say DeAngelo, 72, committed a series of killings, rapes and other crimes over 11 years, from 1975 to 1986, in Northern and Southern California. Law enforcement officials nicknamed the perpetrator the Golden State Killer, who was also known as the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker.
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Joseph James DeAngelo
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Southwestern United States
Prosecutors in six counties filed an amended felony complaint in Sacramento Superior Court that combined the previous cases against DeAngelo in those counties. Those charges include 13 counts of murder with special circumstances, including murder committed during the course of a burglary and rape, prosecutors said.
The amended complaint also includes 13 new charges of kidnapping to commit robbery, with sentencing enhancements for using a firearm and a knife during those alleged crimes, authorities said.
"We are unified, and we are committed to delivering justice to the victims of the Golden State Killer and their loved ones, who for far too long have had justice elude them," Ventura County District Attorney Gregory Totten told reporters.
Totten said the amended complaint "reflects the sheer criminal breadth, the geographic scope and the generational impact of this very significant case."
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said consolidating all cases would provide a better opportunity for a speedy trial.
"Criminal justice doesn't feel just to those who have waited decades for justice," Dudley said.
DeAngelo's attorney, public defender Diane Howard, could not be reached on Tuesday.
Howard said on Monday she was concerned about her client getting a fair trial.
"I just want to make sure that my client is tried where he can get a fair trial," she said.
The defense could seek a venue change.
Usually cases are tried where alleged crimes occur, said Frank Ochoa, a former superior court judge in Santa Barbara County.
"The defense would have to make a strong showing," Ochoa said. "The defense could make a motion for a change of venue arguing that the defendant cannot get a fair trial in any of the jurisdictions (where the alleged offenses occurred) due to too much publicity."
DeAngelo is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.
The former police officer, Vietnam veteran and mechanic was a reclusive neighbor in Citrus Heights, a town about 16 miles northeast of Sacramento, residents said.
Decades after the killings terrified communities throughout California, authorities tracked down DeAngelo using data from a genealogy website where people submit their DNA results in hopes of tracking down relatives and ancestors.
DNA from a crime scene was matched to genetic material from a relative who was registered on genealogy sites, and authorities later obtained a discarded sample of DeAngelo's DNA, leading to his arrest in April.
DeAngelo is being kept in isolation in the Sacramento County Jail. Authorities are concerned he could be a target because he is accused of committing rape and murder, according to Sacramento County Sheriff Department Sgt. Shaun Hampton.
"It's just like we had to protect Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. He was here. Because of his notoriety, all the people he hurt and killed, we had to keep him in a cell by himself," Hampton said.