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Suspect in serial killings in court amid fight over records

Melanie Barbeau displays photos of murder victims believed to be slain by the Golden State Killer as she leaves a hearing for suspect Joseph DeAngelo on Monday, May 14, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Melanie Barbeau displays photos of murder victims believed to be slain by the Golden State Killer as she leaves a hearing for suspect Joseph DeAngelo on Monday, May 14, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)
Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A 72-year-old former police officer accused of being one of California’s most elusive serial killers appeared in a courtroom cage used for defendants in jail Monday as a judge put off a decision on whether to release search and arrest warrants in the case.

Prosecutors allege Joseph DeAngelo is the Golden State Killer responsible for at least a dozen murders and about 50 rapes in the 1970s and ‘80s. The Associated Press and other news outlets are seeking to unseal details related to the arrest and search warrants prosecutors obtained in April, arguing they will provide important details about how prosecutors identified DeAngelo and what evidence they have gathered from him.

DeAngelo’s public defender, Diane Howard, says the information should remain shielded from public view because it could taint jurors and witnesses. In a motion, Howard said the arrest warrants include evidence and details about rapes that DeAngelo is accused of committing, which wouldn’t be permissible at trial.

Prosecutors have searched DeAngelo’s home in a suburb outside Sacramento and recently obtained warrants to search his cellphone and computer. They just turned over information about what evidence they already have gathered to Howard.

The parties will be back in court May 29 to argue over what should be made public. Prosecutors don’t object to unsealing the records.

At the brief hearing Monday, DeAngelo appeared inside the barred-in area of the courtroom. He had previously been handcuffed to a wheelchair outside the area alongside his attorneys. He has not entered a plea.

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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