APTOPIX Golden State Killer

Joseph James DeAngelo (center) is helped up by his attorney, Diane Howard, as Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman enters the courtroom in Sacramento, Calif., on Monday. DeAngelo pleaded guilty to multiple counts of murder and other charges 40 years after a sadistic series of assaults and slayings in California.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A former police officer, who terrorized California as a serial burglar and rapist and went on to kill more than a dozen people while evading capture for decades, pleaded guilty Monday to murders attributed to a criminal dubbed the Golden State Killer.

Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. had remained almost silent in court since his 2018 arrest until he repeatedly uttered the words “guilty” and “I admit” in a hushed and raspy voice as part of a plea agreement that will spare him the death penalty for a life sentence with no chance of parole.

DeAngelo, 74, had never publicly acknowledged the killings, but offered up a confession of sorts after his arrest that cryptically referred to an inner personality named “Jerry” that he said forced him to commit the wave of crimes that ended abruptly in 1986.

“I did all that,” DeAngelo said to himself while alone in a police interrogation room after his arrest in April 2018, Sacramento County prosecutor Thien Ho said.

“I didn’t have the strength to push him out,” DeAngelo said. “He made me. He went with me. It was like in my head, I mean, he’s a part of me. I didn’t want to do those things. I pushed Jerry out and had a happy life. I did all those things. I destroyed all their lives. So now I’ve got to pay the price.”

The day of reckoning had come for DeAngelo, Ho said.

“The scope of Joseph DeAngelo’s crimes is simply staggering,” Ho said. “Each time he escaped, slipping away silently into the night.”

DeAngelo, seated in a wheelchair on a makeshift stage in a university ballroom that could accommodate hundreds of observers a safe distance apart during the coronavirus pandemic, acknowledged he would plead guilty to 13 counts of murder and dozens of rapes that are too old to prosecute.

Large screens flanked the makeshift stage so spectators in the ballroom could follow the livestreamed hearing. Temperatures were taken of everyone in the room, and even the judge wore a mask at times when he wasn’t speaking.

DeAngelo, who wore orange jail scrubs and a plastic face shield to prevent possible spread of the virus, listed to one side and his mouth appeared agape as prosecutors read graphic details of crimes, where he raped and killed and then snacked before leaving.

Family members wept as the proceeding went on for hours.

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