Joseph DeAngelo, the man arrested in 2018 on suspicion of a string of kidnappings, rapes and murders stemming from his time as a police officer in the 1970s and 1980s, is expected to formally enter a guilty plea to some of those charges during a court hearing on Monday.
But the hearing won’t happen in a typical courtroom. Instead, prosecutors have announced the hearing will take place inside a large ballroom at the California State University’s Sacramento campus.
Legal experts speculate the unusual move was made to accommodate more than 100 families and friends of the Golden State Killer and East Area Rapist’s victims, some of whom are expected to make impact statements during the hearing.
California criminal defense attorney and legal expert Mark Reichel told CBS13 News the decision to hold the hearing at CSU Sacramento makes sense because “this is a highly unusual case, probably the biggest case in California history.”
Under normal circumstances, a judge would allow a certain number of victims, members of the public and news reporters into the courtroom to observe a hearing, then provide an overflow space for anyone else who wanted to attend.
Courts have been forced to modify their operating procedures in the wake of the global health crisis brought on by the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
“I think it is driven by the [coronavirus] epidemic,” Reichel said in another interview with FOX40 News. “Normally, they would allow a certain amount of people in the courtroom.”
To ensure those who want to attend in person can, the ballroom at CSU Sacramento was selected so that court officials could accommodate the family and friends while attempting to adhere to social distancing rules and other guidelines that have been put in place in public spaces throughout California.
No matter where the hearing takes place, Mark hopes a guilty plea will spare victims the experience of having to go through a lengthy trial.
“Now we have a guilty plea, I think that’s what’s going to happen. We have a guilty plea. We have a guilty finding,” Mark said. “No more trial. No more guessing. No more speculation. No more fighting. That type of finality is probably good for everyone.”