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Guilty Plea Expected in Golden State Killer Case

The man accused of being the Golden State Killer is expected to plead guilty, the Los Angeles Times reports.

California police arrested Joseph James DeAngelo, himself a former police officer, in 2018. Investigators homed in on DeAngelo through genetic genealogy, matching a DNA sample from the crime scene outside Sacramento where Katie and Brian Maggiore were murdered in 1978 to a relative of DeAngelo's. Police later collected a DNA sample from DeAngelo for confirmation and tied him to additional murders.

According to the LA Times, DeAngelo is to plead guilty to 13 murder charges in an agreement that would enable him to avoid the death penalty. It adds that he is also expected to admit to additional crimes, including rape, for which the statute of limitations have passed.

The arrest in the Golden State Killer case touched off a spate of cold cases in which suspects were identified via genetic genealogy, including a 1987 rape and murder case and the Ramsey Street Rapist case. At the same time, the approach has raised privacy and other concerns.

This case, the LA Times notes, had been expected to be the first time genetic genealogy as a law enforcement approach was tested in court, and adds that prosecutors initially rejected a plea offer. It reports, though, that the complicating factor of the COVID-19 pandemic and the logistics of arranging testimony, often from elderly witnesses, led prosecutors to reconsider.