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Golden State Killer Sentenced to Life in Prison Without Parole

2020-08-21 20:20:26

A former police officer who pleaded guilty to a series of rapes and murders that terrorized California for decades was sentenced on Friday to multiple terms of life without parole after more than 45 victims and family members testified over three days to the pain and anger caused by the man known as the Golden State Killer.

Debbi Domingo McMullan was among the victims’ relatives who spoke in court, as the former officer, Joseph James DeAngelo, 74, listened quietly, his face covered with a white mask.

Prosecutors said Mr. DeAngelo murdered Ms. McMullan’s mother, Cheri Domingo, 35, of Goleta, Calif., and Ms. Domingo’s boyfriend, Gregory Sanchez, 27, on July 27, 1981, when his identity remained unknown and his long trail of violence frustrated law enforcement officials from the southern coast to the Central Valley and the Bay Area to Sacramento.

Ms. McMullan introduced herself as the “surviving daughter of Cheri Domingo, whose murderer now has a name and a face.”

“I am no longer plagued by images of a masked, faceless monster raping, terrorizing and bludgeoning my beautiful mother,” Ms. McMullan said. “I am not that lost teenager anymore.”

Instead, she said, “Today, I am in the room with the pathetic excuse of a man who will now finally be held accountable for his actions.”

Ms. McMullan said if she had her way, Mr. DeAngelo would spend the rest of his life “shivering, blindfolded, naked and exposed.”

“I’ll settle for caged, shackled, humiliated,” she said.

In a dramatic moment in Sacramento Superior Court, Mr. DeAngelo rose from his wheelchair, removed his mask and briefly addressed his victims and their relatives in a slow, halting voice.

“I have listened to all of your statements, each one of them, and I am truly sorry to everyone I have hurt,” he said. “Thank you, your honor.”

Earlier on Friday, another victim, Elizabeth Hupp, recalled Mr. DeAngelo waking her during an attempted kidnapping at her home on Sept. 11, 1975. Mr. DeAngelo was wearing a ski mask and pointing a gun at her, she said, and told her that if she made any noise, he would kill her.

Ms. Hupp’s father, Claude Snelling, must have heard her crying and woke up, she said. Mr. DeAngelo fired two shots at Mr. Snelling, killing him, Ms. Hupp said.

“He then turned the gun on me as I was down on the ground,” Ms. Hupp said. “My only thought was, ‘This is it.’ And I put my head down, expecting him to kill me.”

Instead, Mr. DeAngelo kicked her in the head and face and then ran down the driveway.

“My dad was such a gentle soul and loving, kindhearted man who loved his family more than anything,” she said. “My dad died saving my life that night, and he’s my hero.”

Before he became known as the Golden State Killer, Mr. DeAngelo went by many nicknames, including the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker and the Visalia Ransacker.

Mr. DeAngelo had pleaded guilty in exchange for a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors had previously said that they would seek the death penalty if Mr. DeAngelo were convicted. On Friday, he was sentenced to 12 life sentences without parole and 14 life sentences, said Joseph Cress, Mr. DeAngelo’s lawyer.

“We feel that this is a just resolution of this case, although it can never erase the past,” Mr. Cress said. “We hope this process has provided the victims with some healing and closure. While this is a very unique case, we hope this resolution continues California’s path toward elimination of the death penalty.”

Anne Marie Schubert, the Sacramento County district attorney, said in June that Mr. DeAngelo had “feigned feebleness” when he pleaded guilty from a wheelchair. Instead, she said, Mr. DeAngelo was a “sociopath” without remorse.

“He is a person who lacks a conscience and a soul,” she said.

Mr. DeAngelo had eluded the authorities for four decades before he was arrested in 2018 in a Sacramento suburb.

It was the first high-profile case to be cracked with genetic genealogy, a new technique that relies on identifying DNA collected at a crime scene by searching for the suspect’s relatives in genealogy databases. Investigators used a DNA sample that had been found at the scene of a double murder in Ventura County in 1980 to create a fake profile on a genealogy website. They were able to match the sample to distant relatives of Mr. DeAngelo.

Heather Murphy contributed reporting.


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