California Governor Gavin Newsom took his pen in hand and signed an order putting an executive moratorium on the death penalty in the state.

Undeterred, prosecutors in the Golden State Serial Killer case will seek the death penalty if the suspect in the notorious rape and murder case is convicted.

Ignoring Gov. Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on capital punishment, prosecutors from four California counties announced in court Wednesday they will seek the death penalty against Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist suspect Joseph James DeAngelo if he is convicted.

DeAngelo, 73, had no visible reaction as he stood in a cell inside a Sacramento Superior Courtroom on the first floor of the county’s main jail building downtown before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman.

Clasping his hands together in front of him and sporting a closely shaved head, a gaunt DeAngelo stared straight ahead as prosecutors from Sacramento, Orange, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties said they would pursue a death sentence if he is convicted in any of the 12 slayings he is accused of committing in those counties in the 1970s and 1980s.

Even if DeAngelo is given the death penalty, it is unlikely it would be carried out. Newsom’s death penalty moratorium will be hard to overturn in court because the California’s governor has broad power of reprieve and clemency.

But Newsom does offer his sympathies to the victims’ families.

“These are horrific crimes,” Newsom said in a statement. “Our sympathies are with the victims and families who have suffered at the hands of the Golden State Killer. The district attorneys can pursue this action as is their right under the law.”

California has not executed anyone since 2006, but Newsom said he acted last month because 25 inmates have exhausted their appeals and court challenges to the state’s new lethal injection process are potentially nearing their end. He endorsed a repeal of capital punishment but said he could not in good conscious allow executions to resume in the meantime knowing that some innocent inmates could die.

Ron Harrington, the older brother of DeAngelo’s victim Patrick Harrington, denounced Newsom’s moratorium.

“The death penalty does serve as a deterrent,” Harrington said. “Unfortunately now our governor has decided to interpose his own personal opinion regarding the death penalty.”

DeAngelo, a former police officer, was arrested almost a year ago, after DNA from a crime scene was matched to a relative registered on genealogy sites. Harrington is thrilled that the prosecutors are seeking capital punishment for his brother’s murderer.

Harrington’s youngest brother Keith and Keith’s wife Patty were newlyweds when they were bludgeoned to death in August 1980 in their Orange County home by the man prosecutors believe to be the Golden State Killer. Keith Harrington was months away from graduating medical school. Patty Harrington was a pediatric nurse. The couple were married three months when they were murdered.

“The Golden State Killer is the worst of the worst: 13 murders, 50-plus rapes. He is the most prolific murderer-rapist not only in California, but the United States,” Harrington said, fixing his eyes on reporters.

 
 
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