Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo, sentenced to life for 26 rapes, slayings: 'Truly sorry'

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGO) -- A former California police officer dubbed the Golden State Killer told victims Friday he was "truly sorry" before he was sentenced to multiple life prison sentences for a decade-long string of rapes and murders that terrorized a wide swath of the state.

Joseph James DeAngelo, 74, pleaded guilty in June to 13 murders and 13 rape-related charges under a plea deal that avoided a possible death sentence.

The punishment imposed by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman means DeAngelo will die in prison for the crimes committed between 1975 and 1986.

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The case of the "Golden State Killer," also known as the "East Area Rapist," started with a serial rapist and became a 40-year manhunt for a murderer that spanned 500 miles. ABC7 took a look back on decades of terror and torment, and combed through the ABC7 archives to document the footprint of a predator.



Before sentencing, DeAngelo rose from a wheelchair, took off his mask and said to the court: "I listened to all your statements, each one of them, and I'm truly sorry for everyone I've hurt."

It was the first time we've heard more than a yes or no your honor from the man who terrorized California.

"The survivors have spoken clearly, the defendant deserves no mercy," said Judge Michael Bowman.

The death penalty had been considered for DeAngelo, but the judge believed he would just sit on death row and that it would likely not come to pass.

"Mr. DeAngelo will spend the rest of his natural life and ultimately meet his death confined behind the walls of the state penitentiary," said Judge Bowman.

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DeAngelo also publicly admitted dozens more sexual assaults for which the statute of limitations had expired. Prosecutors called the scale of the violence "simply staggering," encompassing 87 victims at 53 crime scenes spanning 11 California counties.

So many were his victims that Bowman sentenced DeAngelo in a university ballroom large enough to hold the survivors and their families, after an extraordinary three days of hearings in which they told in often heart-rending detail how he had upended their lives.

DeAngelo sat silently through those hearings, expressionless in a wheelchair that prosecutors contended is a prop to hide his still vigorous health.

He eluded capture for four decades until investigators used a new form of DNA tracking to unmask and arrest him in 2018.

Prosecutors initially sought the death penalty, but settled for a life term given California's moratorium on executions, the coronavirus pandemic, and the advancing age of DeAngelo, his victims, and witnesses they needed to make their case.

Bowman sentenced DeAngelo under a plea deal that called for him to be sentenced to 11 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole, plus 15 life terms with the possibility of parole and eight years for other enhancements.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Take a look at all of ABC7's stories, photos, videos, and more from the archives about the Golden State Killer.

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