SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Defense attorneys representing accused serial killer Joseph DeAngelo told the judge during a court appearance Thursday they’d like to “settle” the case if the death penalty was taken off the table, but there is no indication prosecutors are interested in a plea bargain – at least not yet.
The hearing had been scheduled to deal with procedural issues involving DNA samples and jurisdictional issues surrounding the six counties that have joined forces to prosecute the man accused of being the East Area Rapist – also known as the Golden State Killer – who terrorized California for a decade in the 1970s and ’80s.
DeAngelo stood quietly in the cage in Department 61 surrounded by three sheriff’s deputies and he looked on as eight attorneys, four for the prosecution and four for the defense, argued about whether he should be required to submit to additional DNA samples (judge Steven White said yes) and who’s in charge of the prosecution in an unusual arrangement involving district attorneys from six counties (White told the parties to work it out among themselves).
But aside from the one remark from a member of DeAngelo’s defense team, the issue of a possible plea bargain was not explored.
The daughter of one of the victims told CBS13 it’s too early to talk about a guilty plea because she worries it will leave a lot of questions unanswered. Jennifer Carole’s father and stepmother were murdered in 1980 in Ventura County.
“I don’t think the death penalty is really an issue. I think there are other factors at play,” Carole said. “That’s what’s got him on the ropes right now. The biggest thing that he doesn’t want to do is he doesn’t want to go on trial.”
A trial would be the most complicated in California’s history and could cost an estimated $20 million.
An extensive preliminary hearing is set to begin May 12, and Carole hopes to learn new details about the crimes DeAngelo is charged with and she said the information could guide her view on a plea bargain. Prosecutors are required by the California Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008, otherwise known as Marsy’s Law, to consult with victims and survivors and consider their input during criminal proceedings.
Among those attending the packed court session was a woman who considers herself an indirect victim of the East Area Rapist. Velicia Jewell of Cameron Park said she lived in Sacramento during the height of the rape and killing spree and she has been to multiple hearings since DeAngelo’s arrest in 2018.
“It was a long time ago and we were right in the middle of it,” Jewell said. “Thankfully no one that I knew was a victim but you never knew who was going to be the next victim. It was very scary. I’m glad the victims and their families are going to get some justice.”