Suspected 'Golden State Killer' due in court in front of socially-distanced victims

Suspected 'Golden State Killer' due in court in front of socially-distanced victims

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Joseph DeAngelo, who was arrested in 2018, is accused of committing 13 murders.

June 29, 2020, 9:11 AM

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Joseph DeAngelo, the man suspected of being the notorious Golden State Killer, will appear before a state judge on Monday. But rather than be in a courtroom, he'll be in a California State University–Sacramento ballroom, standing before socially-distanced victims and family members.

With over 150 victims and relatives expected to attend, prosecutors sought a room that would be large enough to accommodate them and promote social distancing,The Sacramento Bee reported. The ballroom can hold 2,000 people.

DeAngelo is expected to take a plea deal to avoid the death penalty, victims' relatives told ABC News.

In this April 27, 2018, file photo, Joseph DeAngelo, 72, who authorities said was identified by DNA evidence as the the Golden State Killer, appears at his arraignment in Sacramento, Calif.

In this April 27, 2018, file photo, Joseph DeAngelo, 72, who authorities said was identified by DNA evidence as the the Golden State Killer, appears at his arraignment in Sacramento, Calif.Randy Pench/Sacramento Bee/Pool via REUTERS, FILE

DeAngelo, now 74 years old, is accused of committing 13 murders as well as multiple rapes and burglaries in the 1970s and 80s, terrorizing communities from Northern to Southern California.

DeAngelo, a former police officer, eluded law enforcement for decades, until he was arrested in Sacramento County in April 2018.

In this April 10, 2019, file photo, Joseph James DeAngelo, suspected of being the Golden State Killer appears in Sacramento County Superior Court as prosectors announce they will seek the death penalty if he is convicted in Sacramento, Calif.

In this April 10, 2019, file photo, Joseph James DeAngelo, suspected of being the Golden State Killer appears in Sacramento County Superior Court as prosectors announce they will seek the death penalty if he is convicted in Sacramento, Calif.Rich Pedroncelli/AP, FILE

DeAngelo became the first public arrest obtained through genetic genealogy, a new technique that takes the DNA of an unknown suspect left behind at a crime scene and identifies him or her by tracing a family tree through his or her family members, who voluntarily submit their DNA to public genealogy databases.

This allows police to create a much larger family tree than using law enforcement databases, such as the Combined DNA Index System, aka CODIS, in which an exact match is usually needed.

Since DeAngelo's arrest, over 150 suspects have been identified through genetic genealogy.

ABC News' Jenna Harrison and Annie Pong contributed to this report.

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