It’s been almost two years since Joseph James DeAngelo was accused of beieng California’s Golden State Killer. Sacramento Judge Steve White has ordered a pretrial hearing for May 12, agreeing with prosecutors that aging witnesses were due their day in court and that further delays could hinder the trial, reports USA Today. DeAngelo, a 74-year-old former police officer, was arrested in April 2018 after his DNA, obtained by authorities from a swab of his car door handle, matched the DNA taken from Charlene Smith, who was murdered and raped. Smith’s murder was one of 13 murders for which DeAngelo will stand trial, a total of 26 counts that include kidnapping. The statute of limitations has expired on the dozens of rape cases in which he is accused.
The prolific serial killer was called many names during a decade-long crime spree in the late ’70s, when he terrorized communities across California. He was the East Area Rapist, possibly the Cordova Cat Killer, the Original Night Stalker, and the Visalia Ransacker, and is believed to have committed dozens of murders and more than 50 rapes, in six different counties. His defense team argued Wednesday that they needed more time to comb through the roughly quarter-million documents, including photographs, audio, and DNA samples that prosecutors have gathered to make their case. Public defenders Alice Michel and Joseph Cress said it could take them until the end of this year to prepare adequately the trial. Prosecutors will seek the death penalty if DeAngelo is convicted. The case may be biggest and most complex to go to trial in California history, with 150 witnesses over eight to 10 weeks.