Shortly after Lyman and Charlene Smith drifted off to sleep, they were awakened by a bright beam of light shining in their eyes. A strange voice ordered them to get out of bed.
Blinded, shaken, frightened – they complied. The intruder demanded Charlene tie Lyman’s hands. He then dragged Charlene into another room and raped her. The attacker bludgeoned his victims. Lyman’s 12-year-old son found the bloody bodies bound with drapery cords.
Neighbors in Ventura County were shocked. Lyman, a well-respected attorney, had just been notified that Gov. Jerry Brown was about to appoint him as Superior Court judge.
The brutal rape and murders were not the killer’s first crimes.
In Rancho Cordova, a young, newlywed couple was shot and killed while walking their dog. Nearly four decades later, DNA evidence identified Joseph DeAngelo of Citrus Heights as the killer of both couples.
Dubbed the Golden State Killer, the East Area Rapist and the Night Stalker for his calculated and vicious rapes and murders, DeAngelo’s campaign of terror spread across California. Between 1976 and 1986, DeAngelo, a former police officer, is responsible for at least 12 killings, 45 rapes and 120 burglaries.
Prosecutors in Sacramento, Orange and Ventura Counties have brought murder charges against DeAngelo. Stunned victims and surviving families breathed a sigh of relief. The serial murderer was in custody and facing charges that could result in the death penalty.
Now – even before trial – Gov. Newsom wants to ensure that Joseph DeAngelo will escape the death penalty he so richly deserves.