Joseph DeAngelo — the mass murderer and serial rapist known as the Golden State Killer, who admitted to killing 13 people and raping dozens more across California during the 1970s and ’80s — rose unsteadily to his feet on Friday morning in the Sacramento State University Ballroom, where his sentencing was held to accommodate the large number of victims and their family members in attendance. “I’ve listened to all your statements, each one of them,” he told those gathered for his sentencing. “And I am really sorry for everyone I hurt.”
DeAngelo’s words, delivered haltingly, were his only acknowledgement that he had heard the heart-wrenching statements delivered by his victims and victims’ family members over the prior three days. He had otherwise sat stoically, staring straight ahead while survivors of the murdered described their attempts to regain normalcy and rape victims explained how fear had dominated their lives — using words like “despicable” and “evil” to describe the man who had terrorized so many since his first known victim, Claude Snelling, was murdered by DeAngelo in 1975 in Visalia.
Before DeAngelo was sentenced to 11 consecutive life sentences without parole for his crimes, one of the most powerful judgments on the cruel torment he had inflicted came on Thursday from Debbi Domingo McMullan, daughter of Cheri Domingo, who was brutally killed in Goleta in 1981. As she tried to keep her voice steady but paused occasionally, racked with emotion, Domingo McMullan described her mother’s persistence and love, and the charming joy of her friend, Greg Sanchez, who was also DeAngelo’s victim that night. Domingo McMullan had spent the night at a friend’s house, and in the 40 years since her mother’s death when she was 15, she said, “only now am I understanding the impact of losing my mother in a violent way. When I was first stopped at the yellow crime scene tape around my house, I knew my life was changing.”