SACRAMENTO, California (AP) – A judge in California Wednesday called a hearing in May to decide whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to stand trial against a man suspected of being the famous "Golden State killer" who escaped capture by decades.
Sacramento County Superior Court judge Steve White ordered the preliminary hearing for Joseph James DeAngelo to start on May 12th.
That was more than two years after investigators said new DNA techniques linked the former police officer to at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes across California in the 1970s and 1980s.
The rapist invaded the couples' suburban homes at night, tying the man and stacking dishes on his back. He would threaten to kill both victims if he heard the dishes fall while raping the woman.
Defense lawyers argued in court documents that they needed another year to examine the 250,000 pieces of evidence delivered by prosecutors. Prosecutors said they expect to call 150 witnesses in eight to 10 weeks, Sacramento Bee said.
White said he needed to consider that witnesses and victims are aging.
"I would like to argue that there cannot be a case that is too big to be tried," White said, applauding the victims sitting in court when he set the date.
A man in the audience shouted "Amen" when a prosecutor said the rape victims deserve to see the case go, Bee said.
"Given the number of charges in this case, the number of discoveries is extraordinary," wrote public defenders Alice Michel and Joseph Cress in the search for the delay. “If forced to set a preliminary hearing date at this time, the defense cannot provide competent and effective representation for Mr. DeAngelo. "
Prosecutor Thien Ho replied that DeAngelo, 75, is responsible for the volume of collections.
"It was the defendant who decided to embark on a crime wave that spanned 10 counties," said Ho.
Some witnesses are now in their 80s and 90s, he told the judge, and a Santa Barbara investigator recently died of cancer in his 70s.
Prosecutors in Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Orange and Ventura counties in April said they would seek the death penalty if DeAngelo is convicted, making his announcement shortly after Governor Gavin Newsom places a moratorium on executions while he is governor.
Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.