The man who terrorized California as the Golden State Killer apologized to his victims before being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the Ventura County Star reports. Joseph DeAngelo, 74, sat silently next to his defense team as Sacramento County Judge Michael Bowman imposed the his sentence. DeAngelo, a former police officer, admitted in June to being the rapist, murderer and burglar who stalked his prey in at least six counties in the 1970s and 1980s. He pleaded guilty to 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of kidnapping with robbery. Before his sentencing, DeAngelo took off his face mask and looked at the survivors in the audience and said: “I’ve listened to all your statements, each of them. And I’m truly sorry to everyone I’ve hurt.”
The hearing was held in a ballroom at Sacramento State University to accommodate court staff, attorneys, survivors and the press while upholding social distancing protocols. DeAngelo eluded capture for decades, and it took law enforcement more than 40 years to connect his crimes and catch up to him. He was known in different communities as the East Area Rapist, Visalia Ransacker, Original Nightstalker and the Golden State Killer. By the 2000s, DNA helped link the crimes to one person. An untested rape kit taken from Charlene Smith, 33, one of DeAngelo’s victims, would lead to his arrest in April 2018. Semen collected from her body was used to track down his family tree and point to him as the suspect. His family’s statements painted a picture of a good, loving man and said they could not wrap their heads around around the truth of DeAngelo’s horrific crimes. They also apologized for the pain he caused.