Golden State Killer sentenced to life without parole in historic hearing at Sac State


Rahul Lal

Joseph DeAngelo stands as he apologizes to the survivors of his crimes and the families of his victims. Sacramento State’s University Union acted as a makeshift courtroom for the sentencing trial of DeAngelo, dubbed the Golden State Killer, on Friday, August 21, 2020.

Madeleine Beck, managing editor

Joseph DeAngelo, widely known as the “Golden State Killer,” was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Friday in a hearing at Sacramento State. 

A crowd filled with survivors of DeAngelo’s criminal acts and families of his victims watched as Judge Michael Bowman sentenced DeAngelo to 11 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole for 13 murders, an additional consecutive life term for 13 kidnappings and eight years for weapon enhancements. 

DeAngelo had also previously admitted to 161 uncharged offenses of rape, burglary, abduction and other crimes in his hearing June 29. DeAngelo could not be charged with these additional crimes due to California’s statute of limitations. 

DeAngelo made a short statement Friday in response to the victim impact statements made by survivors and families of his victims that took place during the three days prior to the sentencing. 

I’ve listened to all your statements, each one of them,” DeAngelo said in a loud, clear voice, unlike the feeble one used when he pled guilty to his crimes on June 29. “And I am truly sorry to everyone I’ve hurt.

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DeAngelo has spoken a very minimal amount during the two years of hearings and proceedings following his arrest, and there were audible gasps from the crowd following the announcement that he would be speaking. 

Letters from DeAngelo’s family and friends, including from his sister and his niece, were read by his attorneys. These letters detailed their authors’ relationships with DeAngelo, and expressed apologies to his victims. 

“I do not know the person known as the Golden State Killer,” a letter from one of DeAngelo’s nieces read. “I personally feel that someone else is inside of him who I do not know.”

DeAngelo’s hearing and sentencing were both held in the Sac State University Union ballroom to allow for social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

RELATED: Golden State Killer suspect pleads guilty in hearing at Sac State

Following the sentencing, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert showed multiple video recordings from the past few months of DeAngelo, 74, exercising and moving easily around his jail cell, despite being brought into court hearings in a wheelchair for the past two years. 

“The truth of who Joseph DeAngelo is, lies not just in what happened in the courthouse, but what has happened in his jail cell,” Schubert said. 

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Members of the audience murmured and gasped as the video showed DeAngelo easily stepping onto his bed frame and pulling himself to stand on his desk to cover a light in his cell.

“Over the last two years since the first day he was wheeled into a courtroom for his arraignment … each of us has witnessed a sociopath in action,” Schubert said. 

DeAngelo graduated from Sac State in the spring of 1972, as previously reported by The State Hornet. 

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic it is not yet known where DeAngelo will serve his life sentence, said Gregory Totten, Ventura County district attorney. This is in part due to the fact that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is not accepting sentenced inmates due to the pandemic, Totten said. 

“Ultimately, we intend to make sure that he winds up in an appropriate institution for the magnitude of the crimes he committed and the character and the evil nature of this man,” Totten said.