SACRAMENTO (CBSLA) — Applause could be heard Monday after 74-year-old Joseph James DeAngelo pled guilty to committing 13 murders and took responsibility for nearly 150 other crimes linked to the cases of the Golden State Killer and the East Area Rapist.
With a raspy voice, DeAngelo admitted to being one of the nation’s worst serial predators in front of victims and their families.
“We don’t own that shame, and we are not taking it anymore,” Kris Pedretti said.
Pedretti was 15 when she was raped.
The hearing took place in a makeshift courtroom at Sacramento State University with a number of precautions against the novel coronavirus.
For more than seven hours, prosecutors detailed how DeAngelo sadistically violated his victims, which include 18-year-old Janelle Cruz who was raped and killed in her Irvine home.
“I’m a husband and father, too,” Todd Spitzer, Orange County district attorney, said. “And if I couldn’t protect my family or my children or my wife, that’s not God’s plan.”
The long-unsolved crimes, spanning 45 years and 11 counties, grabbed new headlines in 2018 when law enforcement used DNA, linked through a family tree website to arrest and charge DeAngelo, who was a former police officer.
Charlene and Lyman Smith were killed in their Ventura home.
Some of the district attorneys involved said they had to set aside their personal views on the death penalty to strike a deal for a life sentence without parole so victims did not have to wait one more day to see DeAngelo go from accused to convicted.
“The probability that given his age, the defendant would likely die before his trial and certainly before any execution could be carried out,” Greg Totten, Ventura County district attorney, said.
Some people could be seen hugging as DeAngelo was wheeled out of the courtroom, appearing frail.
“I think it’s an act,” Meredith Wardlow, a victim, said. “I don’t think he’s as frail as he portrays himself to be.”
DeAngelo’s victims and their families will get a chance to speak in court when DeAngelo is sentenced in mid-August.