June 29 (UPI) -- The 74-year-old retired California police officer accused of committing multiple murders and attacks during the 1970s and '80s as the "Golden State Killer" took a plea deal Monday to avoid the death penalty, prosecutors said.
Joseph DeAngelo Jr. pleaded guilty in Sacramento to 13 counts of first-degree murder and more than 25 other counts, including kidnapping, weapons and burglary charges in several California counties. DeAngelo faces a sentence of life without parole, prosecutors said.
DeAngelo entered the pleas in the Sacramento State University ballroom, where more than 150 family members of victims were expected to attend Sacramento Superior Court proceedings under Judge Michael G. Bowman.
DeAngelo appeared with his attorneys wearing an orange jumpsuit and a plastic face mask.
In the first case, Deangelo pleaded guilty in the 1975 shooting death of Visalia resident Claude Snelling, 45, who was killed as he tried to protect his daughter from being kidnapped by an unknown man who had broken into the family's home.
DeAngelo admitted or pleaded guilty to multiple crimes charged on behalf of dozens of victims under the names of Jane and John Doe on Monday. Since the statute of limitations had expired for rape cases, prosecutors charged DeAngelo with kidnapping and unjust imprisonment.
The Golden State Killer was linked to at least 13 murders, 45 rapes and hundreds of burglaries over 30 years in Sacramento, Central Valley and Southern California region. DeAngelo was also known as the East Area Rapist, Original Night Stalker and the Diamond Knot Killer.
DNA evidence collected from genealogy databases uploaded by family members was used to arrest DeAngelo in April 2018. Prosecutors from six counties consolidated cases with at least 25 counts against him.