SACRAMENTO (CBS SF/AP) — Lawyers involved in the Golden State Killer trail may have reached a deal that will find suspect Joseph James DeAngelo pleading guilty to 88 charges of murder, rape and other crimes in order to avoid the death penalty, according to published reports.
A story published by the Sacramento Bee on Monday said the deal would get DeAngelo — who is suspected of at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes across California, including the Bay Area, in the 1970s and 1980s — would face a life sentence instead of possible death sentence, according to multiple sources.
According to the Bee, DeAngelo — also known as the East Area Rapist — will plead guilty to 88 charges at a hearing currently scheduled for June 29. The newspaper reports that details of the plea agreement — which has yet to be formalized in court documents — were still being sorted out by lawyers on both sides of the case.
The final decision on where the hearing will take place is also pending, according to the Bee.
DeAngelo was arrested at his home in Citrus Heights in late April of 2018.
Back in March, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Steve White told prosecutors to informally decide who is empowered to consider defense attorneys’ offer have DeAngelo plead guilty in exchange for avoiding the death penalty. At that point, prosecutors had not wavered from their intent to seek DeAngelo’s execution if convicted.
In April of last year, prosecutors announced that DeAngelo would face the death penalty for the crimes committed during a terrifying spree spanning six California counties during in the 1970s and 80s.
There was the possibility that the sentence would be more symbolic than actually carried out since Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a sweeping moratorium on executions in the state in March of 2019.
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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.
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.
DeAngelo’s defense is being handled by the Sacramento County Public Defender’s Office, which had previously publicly stated it was overwhelmed by the voluminous evidence in the case.
© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this story.