California prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty if the man suspected of being the notorious "Golden State Killer" is convicted in a Sacramento court.
The announcement was made Wednesday by prosecutors from four counties where the alleged crimes took place over two decades. They informed the judge of their intent during a hearing for defendant Joseph James DeAngelo. This move comes less than a month after Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order placing a moratorium on executions for all the 737 inmates on the California's death row, which is the largest in the country.
DeAngelo was arrested a year ago based on DNA evidence linking him to at least 13 murders and more than 50 rapes across California in the 1970s and '80s.
He has not entered a plea to any of the 26 charges he is facing.
The 73-year-old stood motionless and without expression during the Wednesday hearing, and defense attorney Diane Howard did not comment.
Following the hearing Ron Harrington, whose brother and sister-in-law were alleged victims of the Golden State Killer, spoke with the media outside the courtroom and was asked about Newsom's actions to effectively end the death penalty in the state.
"We totally disagree with the moratorium. He is interposing his personal opinion and going completely against the law of California and the will of the people."
Jennifer Carole is the daughter of another murder victim linked to the case. She opposes the death penalty.
"I think the cost is ridiculous. I think it takes really good lawyers out of circulation because they are fighting these cases. It's absolutely biased. White people don't get executed like people of color do."
Carole would rather see DeAngelo spend the rest of his life in prison.
John Brenneise and Jordan Christmas contributed to this post.