SACRAMENTO (Reuters) – An ex-policeman charged with murder in connection with a string of rapes and killings across California attributed to the “Golden State Killer” made a brief initial court appearance on Friday, sitting in a wheelchair and speaking in a hoarse voice.
Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, who was arrested this week at his home in the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights, was formally apprised of two of the eight murder counts against him and ordered back to court on May 14.
DeAngelo, wearing orange jail garb and shackled to a wheelchair, spoke only a few words to acknowledge that he understood the charges and that he was being represented by a public defender.
He was largely inexpressive during the brief hearing, appearing to squint to see the judge across the courtroom and speaking haltingly in a barely audible rasp.
The former police officer and divorced father of three has so far been charged with eight counts of murder blamed on the Golden State Killer, crimes that sprawled from Sacramento all the way to Southern California, including two in Sacramento County, two in Ventura County and four in Orange County.
He is suspected in a dozen slayings as well as 45 rapes and more than 120 burglaries in 10 California counties, a decade-long crime spree considered one of the most prolific in state history.
DeAngelo was in court on Friday only on the two murder charges filed against him in Sacramento County, for the Feb. 2, 1978 slayings of Brian Maggiore, 21, and his wife Katie, 20.