LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A former policeman accused of a string of murders, rapes and home invasions attributed to a serial predator dubbed “the Golden State Killer” will stand trial in Sacramento in an unprecedented consolidation of cases from six counties, prosecutors said on Tuesday.
A single, amended criminal complaint was filed in Sacramento County Superior Court charging Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, with 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of kidnapping, with “special circumstance” allegations making him eligible for capital punishment.
Prosecutors said a decision on whether to seek the death penalty would be made at some point in the future.
DeAngelo was arrested in April, capping more than 40 years of investigation that authorities said was solved by DNA evidence. The breakthrough came about two months after the case gained renewed attention in the bestselling book, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.”
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert called it “probably the most notorious” case of serial rapes and killings in California history
The defendant, who was an officer in two small-town police departments during the 1970s, is set to be arraigned on the new complaint on Thursday. He has yet to enter a plea to the 26 felony counts he faces.
For now the focus will be on preparing evidence as swiftly as possible, though given the complexity of allegations spanning 11 years - from 1975 to 1986 - and multiple jurisdictions, “this will not be a case that goes to trial really quickly,” Schubert told reporters.
She and her counterparts from Santa Barbara, Contra Costa, Tulare, Ventura and Orange counties said they chose to pursue the prosecution in Sacramento because of its proximity to the bulk of the casework and its wealth of investigative resources.
“This case changed our community,” Schubert said of the wave of violent home invasions that she recalled terrorized residents in and around the state capital when she was growing up there.
Orange County D.A. Tony Rackauckas called the collaboration of six county prosecutors in bringing such a case to trial in one jurisdiction unprecedented in California, and the most efficient way of proceeding.
DeAngelo was initially charged with eight counts of murder in Sacramento, Ventura and Orange counties. Four more murder counts were added in Santa Barbara in May, and he was charged with a 13th slaying in Tulare County last week.
Rackauckas said he did not anticipate any additional murder charges, but did not rule out that possibility either.
Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Tom Brown