Golden State Killer Pleads Guilty To Ventura Double Murder And Scores Of Other Crimes Across The State

Monday June 29, 2020

     On Monday morning in Sacramento, a judge asked 74-year-old Joseph DeAngelo how he pleaded to the 1980 murder of 34-year-old Charlene Smith of Ventura.

     In a hoarse, feebile-sounding voice, DeAngelo replied, "guilty."

    The exchange was repeated for Charlene's husband, Ventura attorney Lyman Smith, with the same reply from DeAngelo, "guilty."

    DeAngelo also admitted the killing happened during the rape of Charlene Smith and the burglary of their Ventura hillside home.

    All morning and into the afternoon, that same exchange continued for a dozen other murders, rapes, burglaries, and other offenses that DeAngelo admitted to in a plea agreement with prosecutors from six counties.

     It will see him die in prison, but not by execution, rather from age.

     The brutal crimes earned DeAngelo the title Golden State Killer.

     He spread death, destruction, and terror throughout California in the 1970's and 80's unchecked despite the relentless efforts of law enforcement from a host of law enforcement agencies to catch him.

     Finally, with DNA taken from the Smith killings and the relatively new investigative technique of Genetic Genealogy, detectives were lead to DeAngelo as a prime suspect.

     Since his DNA was not in any databases, investigators were able to gather it from an item he had discarded in his trash.

     His DNA was tested and was a match, not only to the Smith homicides, but to all the other crimes where DNA evidence existed.

     DeAngelo will now spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole.

     Prosecutors agreed to take the death penalty off the table in exchange for the guilty pleas because a long trial, years of appeals, DeAngelo's age, and the state of the death penalty in California, made it virtually impossible for there to be any other outcome in this case then for DeAngelo to die in prison, but not by execution.