Archive for the ‘District Attorney’ Category

Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. pleads guilty to 13 murders, 13 kidnappings, dozens more uncharged crimes

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

Joseph James DeAngelo, Jr. pleads guilty during his hearing on Monday, June 29, 2020. Screenshot of YouTube video. Arrest photo by Sacramento County Sheriff.

Four crimes in Contra Costa County; avoids death penalty, to be sentenced to life without possibility of parole

SACRAMENTO, CA – On Monday, Joseph James DeAngelo, Jr., 74, pleaded guilty today to 13 felony counts of first-degree murder and 13 felony counts of kidnapping to commit robbery during a 13-year multicounty crime spree that terrorized much of California during the 1970s and 1980s. DeAngelo was identified through Investigative Genetic Genealogy (IGG) in 2018, more than three decades after he raped and murdered his last victim in 1986.  (Watch DeAngelo plead guilty and confess to his crimes).

Known as the Golden State Killer and East Area Rapist, DeAngelo also admitted to 161 uncharged crimes related to 61 uncharged victims, including attempted murder, kidnapping to commit robbery, rape, robbery, first-degree burglary, false imprisonment and criminal threats. The uncharged crimes occurred in Alameda, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Stanislaus, Tulare and Yolo counties.

DeAngelo’s hearing was held in the Sac State ballroom to accommodate the victims and their families, and reporters. YouTube video screenshot.

Monday’s hearing was relocated to the Sacramento State Ballroom to accommodate the large number of victims and their family members in attendance and to ensure social distancing in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

DeAngelo is being jointly prosecuted by the district attorneys of Contra Costa, Orange, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties.

“He committed multiple heinous acts in Contra Costa County. Four of those cases we were able to charge,” Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton stated. “While we were not able to file the other cases, we are very fortunate that today DeAngelo pled to all of the cases, both those that were charged and uncharged.”

The decision by prosecutors to accept DeAngelo’s offer to plead guilty to the 26 charged crimes and admit the uncharged crimes was made in consultation with the victims and their family members. The totality of the circumstances, including the age of the victims, the age of witnesses and the death of other key witnesses, and the age of the defendant, were taken into consideration.

The massive scope of this case, which involved more than 1.3 million pages of discovery, would have unduly burdened the victims with a lengthy prosecution that was anticipated to take as many as ten years.  The plea provided the victims and their families who were terrorized by DeAngelo the opportunity to hear him admit his crimes and they will have an opportunity to provide victim impact statements beginning August 17, 2020.

This six-county joint prosecution resulted in a guilty plea of: (Read the details of the charges).

  • 13 counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances allegations of multiple murders and murder during the commission of rape, robbery, and burglary.
  • 13 felony counts of kidnapping to commit robbery with sentencing enhancements for personal use of a firearm and personal use of a knife during the commission of the offenses.
  • DeAngelo admitted murdering:

o Claude Snelling – September 11, 1975 – Tulare County

o Katie and Brian Maggiore – February 2, 1978 – Sacramento County

o Debra Alexandria Manning – December 30, 1979 – Santa Barbara County

o Robert Offerman – December 30, 1979 – Santa Barbara County

o Cheri Domingo – July 27, 1981 – Santa Barbara County

o Greg Sanchez – July 27, 1981 – Santa Barbara County

o Charlene and Lyman Smith – on or about March 13, 1980– Ventura County

o Keith and Patrice Harrington – August 21, 1980 – Orange County

o Manuela Witthuhn – February 6, 1981 – Orange County

o Janelle Cruz – May 5, 1986 – Orange County

DeAngelo also admitted to the uncharged crimes of:

  • Attempted murder, kidnapping to commit robbery, rape, robbery, first-degree burglary, false imprisonment and criminal threats.

DeAngelo’s victims and their families stand during the hearing. YouTube video screenshot.

DeAngelo’s crime spree began in 1975 when he was working as a police officer with the Exeter Police Department. The crimes, which continued long after he was fired from the Auburn Police Department in 1979, escalated from peeping through windows to stalking to rape and serial murder.

His crimes earned him the nicknames of the Visalia Ransacker, the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, and the Golden State Killer. It was not until April 2018 that Sacramento authorities announced that Investigative Genetic Genealogy had identified DeAngelo as the person responsible.

Joseph DeAngelo will be sentenced to life in state prison without the possibility of parole. The sentence will run consecutive and concurrent to his sentence for the first-degree murders to which he has pled.  His sentencing hearing will commence on August 17, 2020. Victims will be given the opportunity to deliver victim impact statements prior to DeAngelo’s sentencing on August 21, 2020.  The sentencing hearing location will be announced at a later date.

The identification, arrest, and prosecution of DeAngelo is the result of decades of work by law enforcement agencies across California.

“Today’s court proceeding brings us one step closer to ending the horrific saga of Joseph DeAngelo and his decades long crime spree,” said Contra Costa DA Becton. “The crimes he committed in Contra Costa County, and throughout the state of California, have left a lifetime of scars and pain for our victims and their families. In this case justice did not move swiftly, it was a long time coming. However, our victims remained steadfast and brave throughout this entire process. Today is about remembering all of the victims in this case and finally holding DeAngelo responsible for these crimes.”

See video of District Attorneys’ press conference following the hearing. Hear from one of his victims from Contra Costa County in a KTVU FOX2 news report.

“I am an ardent supporter of the death penalty when appropriate. There are crimes that are so heinous and so depraved that death is the only appropriate punishment. This is one of those cases, and that is why all six District Attorneys prosecuting this case decided unanimously to seek the death penalty,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “The ability of victims to confront the person who terrorized them and robbed them of a lifetime of memories with their loved ones is an unequivocal right. I carefully consulted with all of the families of the Orange County victims and had the former district attorney who filed the charges fully briefed on the defendant’s offer to plead guilty. Given the totality of the circumstances including the advanced age of the victims, the advanced age and deaths of key witnesses, and the lengthy capital case process ahead, the decision in Orange County to accept the defendant’s offer was unanimous. Today’s plea will never bring the loved ones back or restore the sense of security that was shattered, but today, after 40 years of uncertainty, dozens of victims and a nation heard the person responsible for this reign of terror finally admit that he – and only he – is responsible.”

“The investigation, identification and prosecution of the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer has been a long journey for justice – a journey marked by passion, persistence and sheer determination,” said Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. “Through the revolutionary tool of Investigative Genetic Genealogy, this serial rapist and murderer was not only identified and brought to justice but will spend the rest of his life in prison.  It is my sincere hope that today brings healing to victims, their families and communities harmed by the atrocious crimes committed by Joseph DeAngelo.”

“Today, in the eyes of the victims, and the loved ones of those murdered by this vicious defendant, I saw the exception to the rule: justice delayed is justice denied,” said Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley. “Today I saw justice and it was brought to all of us by the tenacity of Sacramento DA Anne Marie Schubert and her extraordinary team.”

“The crimes committed by the defendant in Tulare County were never eligible for the death penalty based on the law in 1975. It is important to note that he will be sentenced to the maximum for those crimes,” said Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward. “It would be incorrect to describe today’s events as ‘closure.’  The countless victims in this case will still feel the pain of tragic loss – loss of family, loss of innocence, loss of ever feeling safe again – because of the terror inflicted by the defendant. I am proud to stand with these victims, whether they are from Tulare County or elsewhere, to see justice move forward.”

“Today’s hearing marks a tremendous moment in the lives of dozens, if not hundreds, of California citizens who were direct or collateral victims of this defendant’s crimes. This resolution, brought about by the work of six District Attorneys’ offices, demonstrates the work of law enforcement at its finest,” said Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten. “In 1980, Ventura County was rocked by the brutal murders of Lyman and Charlene Smith. Initially, evidence was thin and leads proved fruitless. However, for over forty years, law enforcement never gave up. Using the best technology and legal tools available, teams of investigators linked the Smiths’ murders to other murders and rapes around the state, and we put together a rock-solid case against this defendant. This case, to us, is not just the 26 counts we could charge, but also the myriad other crimes this defendant committed where the statute of limitations had run. We left no lead uninvestigated, and we left no victim forgotten. We wish we could have found him sooner. But we are pleased to be able to say today to our Ventura County community and to Joseph DeAngelo’s victims, you no longer have to wonder who did these horrible crimes. He has not just been arrested and charged; he has now admitted he is guilty. His plea today ensures he will spend the rest of his life in prison, and he will die a convicted rapist and murderer.”

Additional background information about People v. Joseph James DeAngelo, including the factual basis for each plea, can be found at www.peopleversusjosephdeangelopressmaterials.com.

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Contra Costa District Attorney Becton issues ban on carotid holds by DA’s Investigative Unit

Friday, June 26th, 2020

Legislation also introduced to ban carotid restraints by law enforcement statewide

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa District Attorney

Martinez, Calif. – Today, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton issued a new policy for peace officers within the DA’s Office to ban the use of the carotid hold technique. The DA’s Office employs peace officers as senior inspectors within the Investigative Unit. The ban is effective as of June 23, 2020.

“The use of the carotid hold has proven to be an unnecessary and deadly police technique and will not be used by members of my Investigative Unit. The risks associated with this technique far outweigh any potential benefit. This important policy change reflects a positive move forward in police community relations and reinforces the continuous need to focus on de-escalation, training, and tactics,” stated Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton.

In addition to Becton’s ban for her staff, earlier this month, in response to the death of George Floyd, Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson) introduced AB 1196, making it illegal to use a carotid artery restraint tactic to forcibly detain a suspect.

The “bill would prohibit a law enforcement agency from authorizing the use of a carotid restraint or a choke hold, as defined,” according to the text of the legislation.

As used in the legislation, “carotid restraint” means a vascular neck restraint or any similar restraint, hold, or other defensive tactic in which pressure is applied to the sides of a person’s neck for the purpose of restricting blood flow to render the person unconscious or otherwise subdue or control the person.

AB 1196 passed the Assembly and is now awaiting hearing before the CA State Senate.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Golden State Killer arrested for attacks in late 1970’s in Contra Costa to plead guilty Monday to multiple murders, kidnappings, admit to rapes, more

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

By Allen Payton

Golden State Killer suspect Joseph DeAngelo in his arrest photo from August 2018. Photo courtesy of Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office.

A court hearing in the case of the People vs. Joseph James DeAngelo, known as the East Area Rapist and Golden State Killer, will be held in Sacramento on Monday, June 29, 2020. He is expected to plead guilty “to 13 murder and 13 kidnap for robbery counts, as well as admit responsibility for 62 other rapes and crimes that prosecutors say were committed in 11 California counties from 1974 through 1986,” according to the Sacramento Bee. Those include four felonies from his alleged attacks in Contra Costa County from 1978 to 1979. It is reported DeAngelo’s plea will spare him from the death penalty.

The 74-year-old former Auburn Police Officer was arrested at his Citrus Heights home in August 2018 and the Contra Costa DA’s Office announced that he had been charged with his crimes in this county, that same week. (See related article) For the crimes in Contra Costa County DeAngelo could have faced four life sentences plus ten years, if he was convicted.

The cases were prosecuted jointly by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office and Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office in Sacramento County. The joint prosecution also included cases from Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Tulare Counties. An amended complaint, charging crimes from all six counties was also filed in August 2018.

Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton will participate in a multi-agency press conference immediately following the hearing, at approximately 3:00 p.m., that day. She will be joined by Orange County D.A. Todd Spitzer, Sacramento County D.A. Anne Marie Schubert, Santa Barbara County D.A. Joyce Dudley, Tulare County D.A. Tim Ward and Ventura County D.A. Gregory Totten.

The court hearing is expected to begin at 9:30 a.m. and will be livestreamed on Sacramento Superior Court’s YouTube for Department 24 linked here. The press conference will be livestreamed on the Sacramento County District Attorney’s YouTube channel linked here. Both the court hearing and the press conference will be held in the Sacramento State Ballroom, large enough to accommodate the over 150 victims, their families and the media and due to the concerns of the coronavirus and need for social distancing.

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DA charges former Contra Costa County Clerk Canciamilla with 34 felonies for perjury & grand theft related to campaign accounts

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa District Attorney

Joe Canciamilla.

Martinez, Calif. — Today, Wednesday, June 17, 2020, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint of 34 felonies against defendant Joseph Canciamilla of Pittsburg. Canciamilla is the former Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder and a former county supervisor and assemblymember. He also created a campaign account for Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge. Canciamilla is also a licensed member of the California State Bar. Canciamilla’s first court appearance will be on July 27 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 31.

Canciamilla is accused of 30 felony counts of perjury for his alleged misstatements on 30 separate campaign disclosure statements (Form 460s). Canciamilla signed these campaign finance statements under the penalty of perjury. The additional four felony counts relate to personal grand theft of campaign funds for his personal use, totaling $261,800.68. The allegations span conduct from 2010 to 2016.

The personal expenditures made by Canciamilla’s campaign committees for the defendant’s own use were for various purposes, such as:

  • Personal vacation to Asia
  • Restaurants
  • Airfare via Southwest Airlines and American Airlines
  • Repayment of a Personal Loan
  • Transfers from his Campaign Bank Accounts to his Personal Accounts

All of these campaign statements started initially in 2010 with Canciamilla not reporting investment gains in a campaign bank account. While this practice is permissible, using the proceeds of any stock gains for personal use is prohibited. Canciamilla concealed from his Form 460s the gains and losses associated with this investment account. Ultimately, Canciamilla spent more on personal expenses than the unreported investment gains. He therefore had to then transfer personal funds into this campaign bank account to make up the difference.

“In total, the false statements signed by Canciamilla omitted critical information from the campaign finance disclosures. The information left off these forms left the public in the dark about how a candidate and then county-wide elected official spent campaign funds. Given the recent history of misconduct by various elected officials in Contra Costa County, Canciamilla’s behavior is troubling and he must be held accountable,” stated Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton.

The DA’s Office was notified of possible criminal activity associated with Canciamilla’s campaign accounts in early 2017 by the Franchise Tax Board. The criminal investigation by the DA’s Office included hundreds of hours examining seven different bank accounts held by the defendant. The two primary financial institutions Canciamilla used were Contra Costa Federal Credit Union and Charles Schwab.

Ultimately, Canciamilla was fined $150,000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission in a civil stipulation for the multiple errors in his campaign finance statements, which concealed the personal use of campaign funds for his own benefit.

The statements signed by Canciamilla included various campaign accounts, such as his campaign account for judge (“Friends of Joe Canciamilla for Judge 2012” and campaign account for clerk-recorder (“Joe Canciamilla Canciamilla for Contra Costa County Clerk/Recorder”).

See related articles on this matter, here and here.

 

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Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton issues statement on murder of George Floyd

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa District Attorney

Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton. From CCC website.

Today, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton issued a statement regarding the murder of George Floyd:

“I am heartbroken and horrified by the murder of George Floyd and the other unjust deaths of Black men and women in this country. As the chief law enforcement official of Contra Costa, I took an oath to ensure justice for everyone under the law. The fight for justice does not end at the borders of our County or in our communities. We all have a responsibility to speak out against and eradicate injustices wherever we find them. The officers responsible for the murder of George Floyd must be held accountable.

The right to peacefully assemble and protest are a vital part of the fabric of this nation, and the majority of participants have been peaceful and even inspiring. I am disappointed that the righteous marches and gatherings are being infiltrated and hijacked by a small minority of people with other agendas. The individuals who are exploiting the pain, and the cause of so many in our community by committing acts of violence and destruction will be held accountable. We must not let the acts of the detractors deter us from the issue at hand. We must never stop working to eradicate racism and bring about systematic change throughout all systems, especially in our criminal justice system. I will continue to fight for criminal justice reform not only just in Contra Costa but throughout this nation.”

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Antioch Police focusing on serious crimes, DA working to lower jail population during coronavirus shelter in place

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020

“I’m trying to keep our officers as healthy as possible, for as long as possible, to keep our community as safe as possible.” – Antioch Police Chief Brooks

We are still filing criminal cases against violent or serious felonies and some misdemeanors like domestic violence,” – Scott Alonso, PIO, CCDA’s Office

Antioch Police Chief Tammany “T” Brooks. Photo by APD.

By Allen Payton

In response to questions asked and concerns expressed by residents about how crime and criminals are being dealt with during the coronavirus pandemic and shelter in place, the Herald reached out to Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks and the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office.

When asked what the Antioch Police Department is doing right now to fight crime and if they are not responding to certain calls, Chief Brooks responded, “Antioch police officers are still responding to all serious, emergency, and in-progress calls.  Other calls for service like suspicious circumstances or low-level crimes without suspect information may result in an officer not responding.  Instead, these are being handled by telephone or by filing an online report.  When appropriate, we are still taking reports, we are still making arrests, and we are still filing cases with the DA’s office.”

“I can understand residents’ frustration with these new temporary protocols, as they are accustomed to receiving full service from us. However, during this global pandemic, we are all figuring out ways to adjust to the health threat we are facing and change our daily routines to fit current circumstances,” he continued. “The general public is being ordered to stay at home and only go out to conduct essential business.  They can control the social distancing around them when out in public or choose what they will or won’t touch.  Police officers don’t have those same safeguards.”

“In an effort to keep our officers safe and healthy, we are trying to limit their exposure to situations that are truly necessary.  This in turn helps keep our community members healthy as well,” Brooks explained. “Think about it, officers can contact multiple people on duty from various lifestyles, with unsanitary hygiene habits, or who may be sick or have been exposed to someone who was sick.  By limiting the number of people officers contact, it reduces the likelihood that the officer will get infected, or the officer infecting others if they are asymptomatic.”

“We have taken several steps to reduce the number of officers who may be quarantined if any of them get exposed to COVID-19 or becomes ill. But there are a number of police agencies that have upwards of 20% of their police officers out of work due to illness or quarantine.  For us that would amount to 22 officers out of work. Such a hit would have drastic effects on our ability to respond to emergency or life-threatening calls,” he explained. “So, I’m trying to keep our officers as healthy as possible, for as long as possible, to keep our community as safe as possible.”

“Nothing in our world is normal right now, and we are all being asked to make sacrifices.  When this virus is under control and these orders are lifted, service levels will be restored.  Until then, I ask for everyone’s patience and understanding as we all do the best we can,” Brooks concluded.

District Attorney’s Office Actions

When asked what is happening with those who are arrested, Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer for the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office responded, “We are working with our justice partners to lower the jail population. As you may know the Judicial Council…issued new rules on bail effective April 13. (See related article) We are still filing criminal cases against violent or serious felonies and some misdemeanors like domestic violence.”

“The local agencies are citing and releasing certain individuals. We are also not filing non-serious cases at this time,” he continued. “Defendants are also making motions in court to be released and plead their case for release pending final disposition. We are usually not objecting to an ‘OR’ release (release on your own recognizance).”

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Contra Costa DA: price gouging is illegal during state of emergency

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

Violators can face one-year imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County District Attorney

The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office wants to remind all residents that price gouging is illegal while our community is under a State of Emergency from the emergence of the novel coronavirus/COVID-19.

Price gouging is when a retailer or seller is attempting to take unfair advantage of the public during an emergency by increasing prices in an unreasonable manner for essential consumer goods and services. California’s anti-price gouging statute, Penal Code Section 396, prohibits raising the price of many consumer goods and services by more than 10 percent after an emergency has been declared.

Members of the public are encouraged to report any instances of gouging to our Consumer Protection Unit by email at DA-ReportFraud@contracostada.org. Individuals may also fill out a consumer complaint form on our website. Violators of the price gouging statute are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in a one-year imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. The DA’s Office is charged with enforcing this statute. Additional civil enforcement action may also be taken by our Office to protect consumers. The California Attorney General’s Office also issued information on price gouging during this emergency.

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DA seeks help identifying person in human trafficking investigation

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County District Attorney

The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation, Human Trafficking Unit, is seeking the identity of the pictured subject related to an ongoing Human Trafficking investigation. Anyone with information regarding the identity of this subject is requested to contact Sr. Inspector Kevin Coelho at (925) 957-8629.

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