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The Golden State Killer Has Been Sentenced To Life In Prison

Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested in 2018 after investigators ran his DNA through online genealogical databases.

Posted on August 21, 2020, at 2:34 p.m. ET

Santiago Mejia / Getty Images

Joseph James DeAngelo

Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., a 74-year-old former police officer whose rape, murder, and burglary spree over a 12-year period in the ’70s and ’80s throughout California inspired the nickname "Golden State Killer," was sentenced to life in prison Friday.

The sentencing included 11 consecutive life terms without parole, plus 15 life terms with the possibility of parole and eight years. It was the maximum possible sentencing in the state, the judge said.

In June, DeAngelo pleaded guilty to 13 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of kidnapping for robbery. As part of his plea deal with prosecutors, he admitted guilt to at least 50 rapes and more than 120 burglaries for which he was not charged.

"Are you capable of comprehending the pain and anguish you have caused?" Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman said before announcing DeAngelo's sentence.

Victims of DeAngelo's and their relatives read victim impact statements for three days leading up to his sentencing, illustrating the torment and fear caused by his actions.

Sharon Huddle, DeAngelo's ex-wife, released a statement Thursday, her first time speaking publicly since his arrest. Her statement emphasized her empathy for the victims and the trauma she lives with.

“I will never be the same person. I now live everyday with the knowledge of how he attacked and severely damaged hundreds of innocent people’s lives and murdered 13 innocent people who were loved and have now been missed for 40 years or more.”

DeAngelo made a brief apology Friday before the judge read his sentence.

“I’ve listened to all your statements, each one of them,” DeAngelo said. “And I’m truly sorry to everyone I’ve hurt.”

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer rebuffed DeAngelo's apology during a press conference on Friday, saying he had ignored his own family's statements.

“That statement apologizing was a fake. Because if he was truly remorseful about apologizing to everyone, to quote him, who he hurt, he would’ve included a hell of a lot more people,” Spitzer said. He later added, "It was all BS."

He was arrested in 2018 after investigators used an innovative technique of running his DNA through online genealogical databases, through which the DNA of a relative of DeAngelo's was connected. His arrest was the first cold case in the country to be solved with this new strategy.

Michelle McNamara, a true crime author who died in 2016 while researching and writing her book I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, elevated the case to national prominence decades after DeAngelo's crimes had been committed.

Asked whether work on the case was completed, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said during a press conference on Friday, “I don’t believe we will ever know the magnitude of what Mr. DeAngelo did.”

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