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California

Ex-prosecutor urges Sacramento County D.A. to avoid joining Golden State Killer case with Orange County

FILE- In this June 1, 2018, file pool photo, Joseph James DeAngelo appears in Sacramento Superior Co
Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. appears in Sacramento Superior Court in June.
(Jose Luis Villegas / Sacramento Bee)

Sacramento County’s district attorney risks fumbling the prosecution of the suspected Golden State Killer if she lets the case become consolidated with other homicides in Orange County, a former prosecutor in the Orange County office said in a letter this week.

Mike Jacobs, in a letter to Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Anne Marie Schubert this week, said Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas would put her cases “in jeopardy either by being reversed on appeal or subjected to sanctions as a result of prosecutorial misconduct.”

He has endorsed Rackauckas’ opponent in the November election and once worked under him.

Jacobs, who was fired by Rackauckas in 2001 but was later reinstated and is now a private defense attorney, pointed to the county’s missteps in the prosecution of Scott Dekraai in his reasoning. Dekraai became Orange County’s worst mass shooter when he gunned down seven people including his ex-wife in a salon in 2011, but missteps by sheriff’s deputies and prosecutors prevented Rackauckas’ office from prosecuting the case. Dekraai was tried by the state attorney general’s office and ultimately sentenced to life in prison.

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On Thursday, Jacobs declined to comment beyond the contents of his letter. Schubert also declined to comment.

But Rackauckas’ office responded, saying that Jacobs’ letter was an attempt to benefit Rackauckas’ opponent in the November runoff by casting him in a poor light.

“This letter is simply a pathetic publicity ploy and political stunt that unfortunately hurts the crime victims who have waited so long to see justice in the case of a man who terrorized California for decades and who is now charged with murdering more than a dozen victims and raping and torturing dozens more,” district attorney’s spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden wrote in a statement. “It is insulting to the many law enforcement officers who have and continue to give their hearts and souls to this case.”

Regardless of the motive, the letter zeroes in on a question looming over the Golden State Killer case — where will he be tried, and how?

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Joseph DeAngelo Jr., 72, was arrested April 24 at his Citrus Heights home in Sacramento County on suspicion of being the Golden State Killer, a serial rapist and murderer who terrorized suburban communities up and down the state in the 1970s and ’80s.

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(Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department)

The Golden State Killer took at least 13 lives — starting first with a man in Visalia — raped dozens of women and burglarized more than 100 homes, according to police and federal investigators.

The brutal but calculating nature of his crimes combined with his elusiveness made the case ripe for nonfiction crime writers and police investigative shows. The case’s profile reached new heights months before DeAngelo’s arrest when a book about the manhunt was released.

So it came as a shock to many, including retired investigators and some victims’ families, when Schubert’s office announced that they they’d found the man responsible for it all.

DeAngelo faces a dozen murder charges — two each in Sacramento and Ventura counties, and four each in Santa Barbara and Orange counties.

Prosecutors from each county have met to discuss if DeAngelo should be tried for the charges separately in each county or if they should be consolidated into one trial. No decision has been made, they said.

Due to a successful challenge in the June primary, Rackauckas is the only district attorney involved in the case who faces reelection in November.

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joseph.serna@latimes.com

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.


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