Prosecutors Decide Suspected East Area Rapist Will Be Tried in Sacramento

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SANTA ANA -- A former police officer accused of being the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer will be tried in Sacramento County on more than a dozen murders committed up and down the state that terrorized residents during the 1970s and '80s.

The State of California v. Joseph James DeAngelo will now play out in a courtroom in the Golden State’s capital. District attorneys from the six counties where the crimes allegedly happened announced an amended complaint was filed Tuesday morning in Sacramento.

"It alleges the combination of the cases from all of our jurisdictions that are going to be filed and prosecuted," said Orange County DA Tony Rakauckus.

Rackauckas said at a press conference Tuesday Sacramento County was chosen due to the complexity of the case, consideration of the suspect's rights, the locations of the crimes and the hardship of victims and witnesses.

"It's a historic case," said DA Anne Marie Schubert. "I don't think we should underestimate what it is and what it meant to this community and to the communities across California."

The 72-year-old faces 13 counts of murder with special circumstances, including murder during burglary, murder during rape, multiple murders and 13 counts of kidnapping for robbery. His arraignment is set for Thursday.

Schubert spoke about how all the jurisdictions would be working together.

"This case, while it’s in Sacramento, is nothing other than a team of prosecutors representing people who have been deeply affected by the conduct of Mr. DeAngelo," Schubert said at the press conference. "I would remind everyone, for those of you that went to the press conference this April, that this team, one I call 'team justice,' was formed long before an arrest was made, long before anyone had heard the name of Joseph DeAngelo. In fact, this team of folks standing here, of counties standing here, was formed in September of 2016, a few months after the 40th anniversary that occurred at the press conference in Sacramento hosted by our sheriff and our FBI."

That team of multi-county prosecutors is one rarely seen in court.

"I think this is almost historical," said attorney at law Mike Wise. "I’ve been practicing law for 25 years, I’ve never seen anything like this where they are bringing so many cases from so many different counties together in one case."

However, Wise warns the case won’t necessarily be tried in Sacramento. A similar case involving Sacramento serial killer Dorothea Puente was moved to Monterrey County in 1992.

"There’s a couple of arguments there for change of venue," Wise told FOX40. "The first one that comes to mind is because of pre-trial publicity. Can Mr. Deangelo get a fair trial here in Sacramento County?”

Wise says by holding the trial in one place and combining the charges it will also likely save the state a lot of money.

Criminal defense attorney Mark Reichel says DeAngelo’s attorney will have to request a change of venue.

"Legally and ethically, they're gonna have to because the Constitution requires this person whose facing the death penalty get a completely, 100 percent, fair jury," Reichel told FOX40.

"The case is notorious across California but we're confident, even with some other high profile cases, that we can still have fair juries here," Schubert said.

Reichel says there's no comparison to other high profile cases, including Charles Manson or the Unabomber.

"This is the biggest case I've ever heard of in California," he said.

Schubert filed an amended complaint against DeAngelo on Tuesday. You can read the complaint below.

A trial date has not yet been set.

East Area Rapist Sacramento Crime Spree

From 1976 until 1978, Sacramento was a community in fear, terrorized by a man known as the East Area Rapist. One of the women attacked was Jane Carson-Sandler, the fifth rape victim.

"We were all living in fear and never knowing when the next rape would be. It was number 10, number 15, number 20, number 25," Carson-Sandler told FOX40 during a phone interview.

Now the community that fell victim to one man’s heinous crime spree has been chosen to become the site of the trial.

"Everyone was afraid, so, in a sense, everyone was a victim," Carson-Sandler said.

Carol Daly was one of the original Sacramento County investigators on the case more than four decades ago as the East Area Rapist terrorized the community.

"To now know that it's come full circle, that he’s been identified and he will be prosecuted, I think there will be a lot of healing," Daly said.

But the path to healing has been long and difficult for victims and their loved ones. Their lives changed forever during the vicious, decade-long crime spree.

"It was a ripple effect," Daly said. "You had the victim and then you had the family, you had law enforcement that were part of that ripple effect and then you had the community. It was a wide circle of people that were affected."

The 72-year-old was arrested in April at his Citrus Heights home. Now, he sits behind bars in Sacramento.

Some of the victims have traveled to Sacramento to see him face a judge. Last time DeAngelo faced a judge in Sacramento Carson-Sandler was there and a wave of emotion hit her.

"Just before he was brought into court I actually began crying and I didn’t know why," Carson-Sandler said.

But Daly chooses not to go to court.

"I chose not to look the rapist in the face. I don't even like saying his name," Daly said. "The feelings of hate I had so many years for him and I don’t like the feelings of hate and knowing the reaction of victims when they have gone to court and all of the emotions that it brought up. I just choose not to see him."

Victims and their family and friends leave after seeing DeAngelo in court in May.

Daly maintains close relationships with many of the victims from the Sacramento rapes. She says for them the pain of the trial will be intense but hopes the outcome will bring them peace.

"This has been a rollercoaster for the victims for all of these years and hopefully the ride comes to a close when the prosecution is final," Daly said.

Carson-Sandler says the location of the trial is fitting.

"I’m just really glad it's going to remain there," she said.

The trial could be years away, but Carson-Sandler plans to be there with other survivors facing the accused East Area Rapist as he is cuffed and behind bars.

"I will be in that courtroom every day and I think all of us will," Carson-Sandler said.

It's important to remember there were more than 30 rapes in Sacramento alone tied to the East Area Rapist crime spree. DeAngelo is not facing charges for all of those crimes.

The statute of limitations on rape has passed. So even though DeAngelo is facing a slew of charges, Carson-Sandler's attack is not included.

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