Victims want Golden State Killer to live in fear in prison

Posted at 6:51 AM, August 20, 2020 and last updated 3:04 PM, July 26, 2023

By DON THOMPSON Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Since death row isn’t an option for serial killer and rapist Joseph DeAngelo, his victims want him sent to the toughest possible prison in California to live in daily terror of other inmates.


But they may not have much say over where or how the 74-year-old former police officer is imprisoned once he is sentenced on Friday. State corrections officials said they must make their own evaluation about where and how the man known as the Golden State Killer can be housed.

He “deserves the worst possible environment, where he can live in fear as his victims did,” said Sandy James, the sister of rape victim Debbie Strauss, who died in 2016.

Others have made similar recommendations during hearings that resume Thursday with testimony from loved ones of victims killed by DeAngelo. Rape victims testified during the first two days.

Jennifer Carole, daughter of murder victim Lyman Smith, said it is important that DeAngelo be housed among other other inmates rather than in isolation.

Her father was slain in 1980 at age 43 in Ventura County. His wife, 33-year-old Charlene Smith, was raped and killed.

“If he’s in general population, I think he would have to live with the consequences of his actions,” Jennifer Carole said in an interview before her testimony Thursday. “If he’s in solitary, he gets that buffer, and I don’t think he’s earned that buffer in any way.”

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman will formally sentence DeAngelo to consecutive life prison sentences on Friday under a plea deal that will spare him the death penalty.

DeAngelo pleaded guilty in June to 13 murders and 13 rape-related charges between 1975 and 1986. He also publicly admitted dozens more sexual assaults for which the statute of limitations had expired.

Corrections officials said they will have to consider more than DeAngelo’s crimes and his victims’ wishes when they decide where and how he will be imprisoned.

Considerations include his medical and mental health needs, notoriety and safety concerns — potentially key calculations given his age and headline-grabbing crimes. Prosecutors have been trying to counter DeAngelo’s courtroom appearance as a feeble man confined to a wheelchair, noting in a court filing that jail video shows him to be “healthy and physically active.”

“The court can make a recommendation, but ultimately, CDCR (the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) is the housing authority for the inmate population,” department spokeswoman Terry Thornton said in an email.

The department has a special protective housing unit at Corcoran State Prison for high-profile inmates, though it’s not clear if DeAngelo would go there. Notable past residents have included Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan.

On Wednesday, DeAngelo stared ahead with no response — as he has throughout the hearings — as Gay Hardwick described in detail the pain she has endured since he assaulted her in 1978.

She told the judge she is certain that DeAngelo is lobbying to serve his life sentence “in some prison nursing home for old murdering psychopaths where he thinks he will be treated more like a patient than an inmate.”

Jane Carson-Sandler, who was raped in 1976 and also addressed the court on Wednesday, is among those asking for DeAngelo to be housed with other inmates and not in an isolation unit.

“lt’s going to cause him fear, because they don’t like rapists that go after young girls,” she said in an interview, “so he’d be looking over his shoulder.”