SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — The alleged Golden State Killer, charged with a terrifying crime spree in the 1970s and 80s spanning six California counties, will face the death penalty when he tried for the crimes, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

However, the sentence may be more symbolic than actually carried out since Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a moratorium on executions in the state.

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Joseph DeAngelo stood in an orange jumpsuit inside a courtroom cage, emotionless as prosecutors from Sacramento, Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Tulare counties each announced they would seek a death sentence.  His face was gaunt and he looked much thinner than he did during earlier court appearances.

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Authorities believe the 73-year-old former ex-cop committed 13 murders and more than 50 rapes in Contra Costa, Sacramento, Orange, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties. The rape cases happened too long ago to be prosecuted, so prosecutors brought 13 related kidnapping counts.

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The search for the serial killer, known by nicknames such as the East Area Rapist and the Golden State Killer, vexed authorities for decades and left victims’ families without answers. Finally in early 2018 investigators used DNA and a genealogical website to identify and arrest DeAngelo.

The serial killer would monitor suburban neighborhoods and sneak into homes at night, authorities said. If a couple was home, he would tie up the man, place dishes on his back and threaten to kill both victims if he heard the plates fall onto the floor while he raped the woman.

 

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