The former police officer, who worked in Visalia from 1973-1976 and in Auburn from 1976-1979 before he was fired, was handcuffed in a wheelchair and five police officers surrounded him as he listened to the judge with his eyes barely open.
VIDEO: CoCo County Investigator Paul Holes is '100 percent sure' they have 'Golden State Killer'
A court official read the details of the charges that the 72-year-old is facing and a judge asked if he had a lawyer.
In a frail voice, DeAngelo responded, "I have a lawyer." An attorney from the public defender's office was with him in court.
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DeAngelo appeared in a wheelchair and was wearing an orange jumpsuit.
He's facing two counts of murder, but is suspected of at least 10 more murders and upwards of 50 rapes from 1976 to 1986.
"I'm privileged to be able to represent him, it's what we do," said Diane Howard with the public defender's office. "If this case truly has hundreds of thousands of pages of discovery, as they are indicating it does, and I am not surprised given what they are suggested has happened. It could take months."
When asked if DeAngelo deserves a fair trial, she responded, "Of course he does, he totally does. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty. That's what this country stands for. We have the law that suggests that he is innocent until proven guilty. And that's what I was going to ask everybody to remember. Because I feel that he has been already been tried in the press."
Sheriff Scott Jones said Friday that Joseph James DeAngelo was in a psychiatric ward of the county jail and has said little. Jones says there's been "quiet reflection" and mumbling.
Jones says investigators are sifting through every item, receipt and piece of paper from DeAngelo's home. They're searching for any possible clues to tie him to more than 170 crimes authorities believe he may have committed.
FROM THE ARCHIVE: 'Golden State Killer' investigation moves to Walnut Creek in 1978
Investigators reportedly tracked down DeAngelo using a genealogy website that contained genetic information from a relative.
Police searched his Citrus Heights home on Thursday for possible murder weapons as well as trinkets the accused "Golden State Killer" might have stolen from his victims.
Eric Thomas and Melanie Woodrow will have the latest on this developing story tonight on ABC7 News. Click here and here to follow their updates on Twitter.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.