Wearing an orange jumpsuit and a clear face shield to protect against the coronavirus, former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. pleaded guilty on Monday to 13 counts of first-degree murder. The string of murders in the 1970s and ’80s terrorized California, and the suspect who committed them became known as the Golden State Killer.
DeAngelo, 74, sat in a wheelchair as he rasped out “yes” and “I admit” to the charges, after prosecutors described the grisly circumstances of each crime. Otherwise, he hardly spoke and did not look at the victims’ families. “Mr. DeAngelo is acknowledging his guilt for the heinous crimes he has committed,” said Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton. “There is really nothing that could give full justice because he has committed horrendous acts and murder up and down the state of California. But at least we can now begin the process — after decades — to bring some closure to families.”
The hearing took place in a makeshift courtroom within a ballroom at Sacramento State University, NPR’s Eric Westervelt reports from the scene. The chairs in the gallery were spaced 10 feet apart for social distancing, attorneys wore face shields, and sheriff’s deputies wore black face masks.