'Sick monster': Golden State killer sentenced to life in prison

21 August 2020, 22:05

Joseph DeAngelo has been sentenced to life in prison
Joseph DeAngelo has been sentenced to life in prison. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

A former California police officer who killed 13 people in a decade-long murder spree has been put behind bars for the rest of his life.

Joseph James DeAngelo - who became known as the Golden State Killer - told assembled victims and their families he was "truly sorry" for the 13 murders and 13 rape-related charges he committed between 1975 and 1986.

The 74-year-old also publicly admitted dozens more sexual assaults for which the statute of limitations had expired.

DeAngelo is now destined to die in prison after being ordered to serve 11 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole, with 15 concurrent life sentences and a further eight years for weapons charges.

DeAngleo has sat through victim testimony this week, and before sentencing rose from a wheelchair, took off his mask and said to the court: "I listened to all your statements, each one of them, and I'm truly sorry for everyone I've hurt."

Elizabeth Hupp, daughter of Claude Snelling, was one of many who made victim impact statements
Elizabeth Hupp, daughter of Claude Snelling, was one of many who made victim impact statements. Picture: PA

Prosecutors called the scale of the violence "simply staggering", encompassing 87 victims at 53 crime scenes spanning 11 California counties.

So many were his victims that Judge Bowman sentenced DeAngelo in a university ballroom large enough to hold the survivors and their families, after an extraordinary three days of hearings in which they told in often heart-rending detail how he had upended their lives.

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DeAngelo sat silently through those hearings, expressionless in a wheelchair that prosecutors contended is a prop to hide his still vigorous health.

He eluded capture for four decades until investigators used a new form of DNA tracking to unmask and arrest him in 2018.

Prosecutors initially sought the death penalty, but settled for a life term given California's moratorium on executions, the coronavirus pandemic, and the advancing age of DeAngelo, his victims, and witnesses they needed to make their case.