Golden State Killer suspect may face death penalty

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SACRAMENTO, CA – APRIL 27: Joseph James DeAngelo, the suspected “Golden State Killer”, appears in court for his arraignment on April 27, 2018 in Sacramento, California. DeAngelo, a 72-year-old former police officer, is believed to be the East Area Rapist who killed at least 12 people, raped over 45 women and burglarized hundreds of homes throughout California in the 1970s and 1980s. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Prosecutors in the case of suspected Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo will seek the death penalty, they said in court Wednesday — despite the governor’s moratorium on executions.

Though Gov. Gavin Newsom signed in March preventing executions from being carried out in California, the order does not prevent death penalty sentences from being handed out.

DeAngelo is accused of raping and killing more than a dozen women between 1975-1986 in six California counties. Four of the six said they will ask for the death penalty if he’s convicted. The charges against DeAngelo in two of the counties, Tulare and Contra Costa, are not eligible for the death penalty.

“We are absolutely thrilled with what has happened today,” said Ron Harrington, brother of victim Keith Harrington who was killed in 1980. Cases like this, he said, are “why we have the death penalty.”

The suspect, dubbed the Golden State Killer by law enforcement officials and also known as the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker, is being tried on the multiple murder counts in a single trial in Sacramento.

Charges against DeAngelo include 13 counts of murder with special circumstances, including murder committed during the course of a burglary and rape, prosecutors have said. He’s also charged with kidnapping to commit robbery.

DeAngelo, a former police officer, Vietnam veteran and mechanic, wasn’t arrested until almost a year ago, after DNA from a crime scene was matched to a relative registered on genealogy sites.

Representing Sacramento County, Deputy DA Thienvu Ho said Wednesday that prosecutors will reevaluate their request for the death penalty if the defense provides mitigating evidence.

The six counties involved in the prosecution are Orange, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Sacramento, Tulare and Contra Costa.

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