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Golden State Killer Sentenced To Life In Prison Without Possibility Of Parole

Joseph James DeAngelo, the Golden State Killer, was sentenced on Friday to life in prison after admitting to more than a dozen murders in the 1970s and '80s.
Santiago Mejia
AFP via Getty Images
Joseph James DeAngelo, the Golden State Killer, was sentenced on Friday to life in prison after admitting to more than a dozen murders in the 1970s and '80s.

Updated at 2:47 p.m. ET

The former police officer known as the Golden State Killer was sentenced Friday to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Joseph James DeAngelo, now 74, admitted to committing more than a dozen murders in the 1970s and '80s after investigators identified him as a suspect using public genealogy websites to trace his DNA.

DeAngelo pleaded guilty in June to 13 murders and 13 rape-related charges. He also admitted to dozens more murders and rapes that were beyond the statute of limitations, The Associated Press reports.

The life sentence without possibility of parole was announced in Sacramento County Superior Court.

Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton noted the courage and strength of victims who came forward to share their stories of the agony they endured.

"Over four decades — that's a long time to wait for justice to be served — finally we have arrived at that day," Becton said. "The day when those who have waited so very long will hear that Joseph DeAngelo will now serve the rest of his life behind bars."

She thanked the court for giving DeAngelo the maximum sentence permitted.

"The serious and the gravity of the offenses, the psychological harm, the pain and the brutality of these offenses requires nothing less than the imposition of the maximum sentence. The victims must be assured that Mr. DeAngelo will never, ever walk this Earth again as a free man."

A plea deal that DeAngelo's attorneys struck with prosecutors meant that he was able to avoid the death penalty.

The string of long-unsolved murders made headlines in 2018 after law enforcement officers announced they identified DeAngelo as the suspect by using DNA from a no-frills genealogy website to crack the case.

Investigators used the DNA evidence from one of the murder scenes to create a profile of the killer, which they then uploaded to the genealogy website. That site linked the killer's profile to a distant relative of DeAngelo. Law enforcement confirmed the link by collecting DeAngelo's DNA from his car door and a discarded tissue.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.
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