Joseph James DeAngelo — the man accused of being the Golden State Killer — has offered to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, according to a statement from his defense lawyers in court documents, New York Times reports. DeAngelo has been charged with a series of murders and rape-related charges in multiple California counties and he faces a possible death sentence.
DeAngelo was arrested in April 2018 after evading investigators for more than 40 years, with the aid of new familial DNA technology and public genealogy databases that linked him to DNA from the crime scenes.
DeAngelo, a former police officer, is facing 13 murder charges and 13 rape-related charges for crimes committed in the 1970s and 1980s in six California counties. Because of the statute of limitations for sexual assault, the rape-related charges have been filed as kidnappings to commit robberies using a gun and knife. Beyond the charges, there are some 50 rapes investigators have long believed were committed by one assailant across California in the 1970 and 1980s.
“Mr. DeAngelo is 74 years old. He has offered to plead to the charges with a lifetime sentence,” reads DeAngelo’s lawyers’ statement in a court motion filed this week.
In February, DeAngelo’s lawyers wrote a letter to victims’ families and survivors addressing DeAngelo’s offer to plead guilty in order to resolve the case quickly versus a possible several years-long trial that could cause more stress for victims and their families. “This particular case is exceedingly complex due to the number of charged crimes and the diverse locations of the charged crimes,” the lawyers wrote, via New York Times. “We would like to reach a resolution of the case that avoids a trial, satisfies all parties and provides a more immediate resolution of the case.”
The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office stated on Wednesday that “nothing has changed” since April 2019, when prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty if DeAngelo was convicted. Though California governor Gavin Newsom issued a moratorium on executions in Marth 2019, the death penalty remains legal in the state.