SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — An officer rolled Joseph James DeAngelo into the courtroom in a wheelchair.
He was shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit. He looked lost, groggy, and confused as the judge read the charges against him.
At first, he didn’t respond when the judge asked if he’d like to accept a public defender.
“Did you not understand the question,” Judge Michael Sweet asked.
Then, the only barely audible words he spoke:
“I have a lawyer,” DeAngelo said.
Family members of victims sat in the audience. One woman held up a picture of a couple DeAngelo is accused of killing 40 years ago.
Outside the courtroom, media poured into the hallway to speak to DeAngelo’s court-appointed attorney Diane Howard, hoping for a fair trial.
“He is innocent until proven guilty that’s what I was gonna ask everybody to remember because I feel like he’s been tried in the press already,” she said.
The suspected Golden State Killer is blamed for 12 murders and more than 50 rapes in the 1970s and 80s.
Investigators say the former cop began his heinous crime spree by raping his victims in Sacramento. That’s where he was nicknamed the East Area Rapist.
DeAngelo is on suicide watch at the jail. A sheriff’s department spokesman says that’s not necessarily because he’s suicidal but so that the jail could dedicate more resources to him, to ensure everyone is safe.
DeAngelo’s next court date is set for May 14, where may enter a plea.