SACRAMENTO, Cali. — The former California police officer believed to be the Golden State Killer on Thursday lost his bid to block prosecutors’ efforts to collect more of his DNA in their investigation of 12 murders and more than 50 rapes in the 1970s and 1980s.
A public defender for Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, had asked a Sacramento court to stop prosecutors from taking more fingerprints, DNA evidence and photos of the defendant’s body because their search warrant was obtained before his arrest and arraignment last week. The defense said prosecutors effectively were asking their client to incriminate himself.
Prosecutors argued that the evidence they are seeking is not “testimonial in nature.” Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Sweet ruled Thursday that prosecutors can proceed.
“I see no Fifth Amendment privilege,” the judge said. “There’s no basis to stop the execution of the search warrant.”
DeAngelo attended the hearing in a wheelchair; he wore handcuffs and said nothing. He is due back in court May 14.
Decades after a crime spree that sowed fear in communities throughout the state, authorities last week tracked down the suspect by comparing genetic profiles from genealogy websites to crime scene DNA, according to prosecutors.
DNA from a crime scene was matched to genetic material from a relative who was registered on genealogy sites, and authorities later obtained a discarded sample of DeAngelo’s DNA.
DeAngelo, a former police officer, Vietnam veteran and a mechanic, was a reclusive neighbor in Citrus Heights, a town about 16 miles northeast of the California capital, according to residents.
In the early 1970s, DeAngelo worked as a police officer in Exeter and Auburn, California. Authorities have said some of the alleged crimes of the Golden State Killer overlapped with DeAngelo’s time as a police officer.
DeAngelo was fired from his law enforcement job in 1979 for shoplifting a can of dog repellent and a hammer from a drugstore.
He then lived what appears to be a quiet life. He worked as a mechanic at the distribution center of a Modesto-based supermarket chain for 27 years until he retired last year, a spokeswoman for the company said.
Neighbors have said DeAngelo mostly kept to himself and sometimes yelled at people who got too close to his fence, but they said he had become a recluse in recent years.
Speaking in a feeble, barely audible voice and sitting in a wheelchair, DeAngelo appeared in court last Friday but did not enter a plea to the murder charges he faces in the 1978 deaths of Katie and Brian Maggiore.
The defendant is “depressed and right now, fragile,” defense attorney Diane Howard said last week. DeAngelo spoke only a few words at the hearing, telling the judge he would accept a court-appointed attorney.