SACRAMENTO – In a moment his victims have long awaited, a 74-year-old former police officer who terrorized California as the Golden State Killer began pleading guilty to a long list of charges Monday in a university ballroom turned courtroom.

Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., clad in orange jail clothing and wearing a clear protective face shield, sat onstage at Cal State Sacramento, with cameras projecting his face onto the ballroom wall so all could see – bringing the Golden State Killer case to a close with more spectacle than court decorum.

DeAngelo scarcely spoke during the early part of the hearing, only answering questions from Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman in a shaky “yes” or “no.”

The plea hearing was scripted, allowing no room for ad-libbed confessions. DeAngelo is expected to admit guilt to 13 murders, 13 charges of kidnapping for purposes of robbery – the only crimes he is charged with – as well as 62 other crimes of rape and abduction for which the statutes of limitations long ago expired.

The crime series ran from at least 1973 to 1986 and involved attacks on some 106 children, men and women. Fifty women were raped. Thirteen people were killed.

Sacramento County Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Thien Ho called the crimes “simply staggering” in scope.

“His monikers reflect the sweeping geographical impact of his crime,” Ho said, adding, “each time, he escaped – slipping away silently into the night, leaving communities terrified for years.”

Detectives did not have a final named suspect until 2018, when they used crime-scene DNA and genealogy services to identify the killer’s cousin and then, finally, DeAngelo.

Sitting in a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department interview room hours after his arrest, Ho said DeAngelo spoke to himself, saying: “I did all those things. I’ve destroyed all their lives. So now, I’ve got to pay the price.”

Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty – the main request made by DeAngelo’s public defenders. In return for his guilty plea, DeAngelo will be sentenced to prison for the rest of his life.

The public will also be spared years of criminal proceedings, which prosecutors estimated could have cost more than $20 million. There will be no need for testimony by scores of rape victims, family members of those murdered and DeAngelo’s three daughters and ex-wife.

District attorneys from the eight counties prosecuting DeAngelo took the stage Monday to read into the record descriptions of the crimes.

As details about the murders of two other victims – Greg Sanchez and Cheri Domingo – were read aloud, Cheri’s daughter, Debbie Domingo, stood to face DeAngelo.

Jennifer Carole also stood, hands gripped behind her back, as the 1980 bedroom murders of her father and stepmother, Lyman and Charlene Smith, were described. She took off her mask so she could be seen, but did not make eye contact with DeAngelo.

Afterward, retired Sacramento County sheriff’s Detective Carol Daly stepped up to give Carole a hug.

DeAngelo’s whispery voice and wheelchair did not evoke any sympathy from Carole.

“Rest assured, it’s still an act,” she said, echoing the opening statement by prosecutors who said DeAngelo briefly feigned insanity when arrested for shoplifting in 1979 and suggested his statements of an alter ego when he was arrested in 2018 were conjured.

Six family members of Janelle Cruz, DeAngelo’s last known victim, stood together to confront him as he pleaded guilty to murder and admitted raping the 18-year-old.

Cruz was bludgeoned to death in 1986 with what detectives believe was a pipe wrench that had been stolen from the family’s backyard days earlier.

DeAngelo appeared to look down, not returning their gaze.

He again looked down as four relatives of Brian and Katie Maggiore, chased down and shot while taking an evening stroll in Rancho Cordova, stood just feet away from the raised stage where DeAngelo and his lawyers sat.

“How do you plead to that sir?” the judge asked. DeAngelo turned to his lawyer for a prompt, paused briefly before answering, “Guilty.”

All the women who were raped were referred to as “Jane Doe,” a decision that was criticized before the hearing by some who seek to be shed of decades of social stigma over their attacks.

“I don’t want that,” said Kris Pedretti, who was 15 when she became the 10th victim of a serial predator operating in the suburbs of Sacramento and known then as the East Area Rapist. “I want to be seen as a real person that he did this to and not as some Jane Doe.”

The Sacramento County district attorney’s office told Pedretti the decision had been made for her, she said, but conceded her request to be allowed to stand during the hearing when her 1976 attack is mentioned.

“We don’t have anything to be ashamed of, so we can stand up and he can take a look at us,” Pedretti said. “We’re not afraid of him. I think that’s more powerful than us staying seated and being a Jane Doe. Because, if he looks out, he doesn’t know who is who. He will today.”

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