Dozens of Joseph DeAngelo’s surviving victims will share their stories in a California courtroom this week to highlight the impact that his brutal crimes had on their lives.
DeAngelo, known as the “Golden State Killer”, pleaded guilty in June to 13 murders and more than 50 rapes between 1973 and 1986.
Some survivors of the 74-year-old’s crimes, along with family members of his victims, are scheduled to give statements over three days prior to his sentencing.
As part of a plea deal to spare him the death penalty, DeAngelo, a former police officer, admitted to dozens of uncharged crimes while in custody.
However the victims of these crimes, many of which are sexual assaults, will not see justice as the statute of limitations has expired, according to the Ventura County Star.
Cheryl Temple, Ventura County chief assistant district attorney, said that the decision to let the victims tell their stories was made in order to highlight the long-lasting damage DeAngelo’s crimes have had.
“The statements from all victims are designed to enlighten all parties and the public to the swath of damage that violent predators leave in their wake,” Ms Temple said. “They can be cathartic for victims to write and deliver, and they truly shift the focus from the defendant to the societal impact of crime.”
The case, which remained unsolved for 32 years, was thrust back into the spotlight by the late true crime writer Michelle McNamara’s posthumous book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, in 2018.
McNamara, who was married to actor and comedian Patton Oswalt, and the case were the subject of HBO series, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, that aired on HBO in June.
One of the survivors, Jane Carson-Sandler, told the Associated Press that she has served an effective life sentence in the four decades since she was raped by DeAngelo.
She said that for the victims, “our wounds heal and our scars remain”.
Kris Pedretti, who was just 15 years old when she was attacked by DeAngelo, added that after she was sexually assaulted, “this kid who liked to go shopping and do cartwheels on the lawn — that girl was gone”.
Ms Pedretti said that she struggled for decades after the attack and “did a lot of self-medicating, a lot of poor coping mechanisms,” as she lost friends and got divorced twice.
However, she said that after DeAngelo was arrested in 2018 she started to go to therapy and became a “den mother” to multiple other sexual assault survivors.
“He didn’t win. I’m not a lost girl. I want to make that clear,” Ms Pedretti said. “I just got so much love and support in the last two years that I’m in a really good place and I want to pay it forward.”
Survivors Gay and Bob Hardwick told the AP that they would have liked DeAngelo to be given the death penalty, but always knew it was unrealistic as California has a moratorium on such punishment.
“That’s been with me for 42 years now, and in my view that’s a long life sentence for someone to serve who didn’t deserve to serve it,” Ms Hardwick said.
“Not one of us, the survivors, deserved to have this kind of violence and hatred and desecration put upon them.”
She added: “He certainly does deserve to die, in my view, so I am seeing that he is trading the death penalty for death in prison.”
The survivors are scheduled to speak on Tuesday and Wednesday. Family members of DeAngelo’s victims will deliver statements on Thursday.
DeAngelo will be sentenced on Friday and the proceedings will be live-streamed on the Sacramento County Superior Court’s YouTube channel.
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