The man suspected of carrying out a string of burglaries, rapes and murders in the 1970s and 1980s is expected to enter a guilty plea at a court hearing later this month.
That guilty plea will likely spare Joseph DeAngelo from a death sentence and preserve millions of taxpayer dollars that would have been spent on a lengthy criminal trial, according to legal experts.
DeAngelo, a former police officer from Northern California, was arrested in 2018 after DNA submitted to a genealogy website reportedly match some of DeAngelo’s distant relatives. The DNA allegedly proved a link between DeAngelo and an unknown man whom police called the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker.
Prosecutors charged DeAngelo with 13 counts of kidnapping and 13 counts of murder. Though he is suspected of other crimes associated with the East Area Rapist and Original Night Stalker cases, statutes of limitations in California law prevented prosecutors from seeking charges for those alleged crimes.
Rumors of a possible plea deal began swirling in early March after attorneys representing the man said they were trying to “resolve” the case.
A footnote in a supplemental court filing seeking the dismissal of certain charges said DeAngelo had offered to plead guilty to other charges in exchange for a lifetime sentence.
Court hearings were delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 global health crisis, but as proceedings started up again, the Sacramento Bee published a report on Monday saying attorneys had been contacting victims with information about a plea deal.
The Bee’s report said the deal is still in the works and had not been finalized, and that any plea deal could collapse due to DeAngelo’s erratic nature.
Sacramento criminal defense attorney Mark Reichel told CBS13 News a plea deal would save California taxpayers a considerable amount of money and spare victims and their families from what was sure to be a lengthy trial.
“Many times, this was referred to as what was going to be the biggest trial in the history of California,” Reichel said, adding that the costs associated with litigation were expected to be around $50 million.
DeAngelo’s plea could be entered as early as June 29, which would coincide with his next court appearance.