Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer told a group of crime victims and their families Monday that he will be meeting this week with other top prosecutors involved in the Golden State Killer case in Sacramento, a month after Gov. Gavin Newsom put a moratorium on the death penalty in the state.
Spitzer railed against Newsom’s blanket reprieve of death row prisoners while he’s in office, as well as the order to dismantle the execution chamber.
On Wednesday, accused Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo is due in court for a pretrial hearing. Shelly Orio of the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office declined comment, but it is expected that the office may make an announcement on whether to pursue the death penalty despite the governor’s move.
There was no doubt where Spitzer stood on the issue.
“Governor Newsom, if not the Golden State Killer, then who” should face the death penalty, Spitzer said.
Spitzer said that on Thursday, he plans to personally visit Newsom’s office in Sacramento and hand off a video of Monday’s crime victims rally in Orange County.
“I hope, governor, that you will watch and listen,” he said. “I hope you understand the magnitude of your decision.”
Spitzer told those at the annual gathering of crime victims to “stay mad and stop the madness.”
Spitzer also criticized measures taken to reduce prison overcrowding over the last several years and pledged to back a measure in 2020 to modify Proposition 57, which voters approved in 2016, to allow for more opportunities for parole and early release due to good behavior.
Spitzer said his prosecutors cannot argue the entire criminal history at a parole hearing anymore.
“That’s abominable,” he said.
Spitzer argued that parolees were winning release at a 12 percent rate before Proposition 57, but that number has jumped to 35 percent.
“We’re going back to the voters of California to reverse the nonsense of Prop. 57,” Spitzer said, adding that a list of crimes need to be added to what is legally considered a violent crime.
The brother of Golden State Killer victim Keith Harrington told reporters Wednesday’s hearing in Sacramento County Superior Court is “very, very important.”
DeAngelo is also charged with killing Keith Harrington’s wife, Patti, in August 1980 in Dana Point, along with two women in Irvine in 1981 and 1986.
“We consider the Golden State Killer the worst of the worst,” Ron Harrington said.
Newsom “decided to inject his own personal opinion relative to the death penalty,” he said. “Before the election, Gov. Newsom gave multiple interviews saying he would follow the will of the people and the law of California.”
Harrington encouraged reporters to dig up as many clips of the governor as possible before the election when asked about capital punishment, saying he and others are “very concerned” that the death penalty will be taken off the table in DeAngelo’s case.
Steve Herr, whose son Sam was murdered by Daniel Wozniak, who was sentenced to death for killing him and his friend, Julie Kibuishi, also railed against Newsom’s cessation of the death penalty.
“I took comfort that Wozniak would eventually face his deserved fate,” Herr said. “But a few weeks ago our healing crashed. Needless to say, I was utterly devastated.”
The governor “not only reopened old wounds, he opened up new ones,” Herr said.
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