Attorneys in Golden State Killer case spar over release of arrest warrants

Several news outlets are asking a Sacramento County judge to unseal search and arrest warrants in the capture of suspect Joseph James DeAngelo.
by Associated Press /  / Updated 
Image: Arraignment Held For Alleged "Golden State Killer" Joseph DeAngelo Jr
Joseph James DeAngelo, the suspected 'Golden State Killer,' appears in court for his arraignment on April 27, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A decision was delayed Monday on whether documents used to arrest the suspected Golden State Killer must be made public. A court hearing on the matter was rescheduled for May 29.

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Sweet must still consider whether to make public the search and arrest warrants for Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, whom authorities call one of California’s most elusive serial killers.

DeAngelo — a former police officer who was arrested last month after decades living in anonymity outside of Sacramento — was in court for the short hearing. He was able to stand, unlike previous appearances in a wheelchair.

Authorities allege he is the serial rapist and so-called Golden State Killer responsible for 12 slayings and nearly 50 rapes in the 1970s and '80s.

The Associated Press and several other news organizations are asking Sweet to unseal the warrants.

DeAngelo's attorney, Diane Howard, has argued that making the documents public could taint witnesses and jurors and result in an unfair trial. But she wants Sweet to delay a decision until defense attorneys can review more documents, including what was seized when investigators searched her client's properties.

Prosecutors don't object to unsealing the records but say a different judge who issued the warrants, Superior Court Judge Steve White, should make the decision.

Prosecutors said they used DNA and a genealogical website to identify DeAngelo, who was arrested last month and remains jailed in Sacramento County.

Attorneys for the news media say the warrants could provide more details about the techniques used to identify him, but Howard said the warrants do not provide much new information on the use of genealogical websites.

District attorneys from Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Orange and Ventura counties met last week to discuss where DeAngelo may be tried and who will prosecute. But they made no decision and plan to meet again in late June.

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