March 5, 2020 Podcast Notes | DeAngelo Wants to Plea

This is a summary of my March 5, 2020 podcast, DeAngelo Wants to Plea. You can listen to the podcast here or search Lawyer’s Daughter on Spotify, TuneIn, Apple Pods, Google Play Music and PodBean. As always, I appreciate your ratings, reviews and sharing with your family and friends.

On Tuesday, March 4, when I was preparing to do my first talk in Santa Cruz around four o’clock, I saw a notification come through on my phone from Reddit that said JJD is going to plea. And I stopped breathing. I held my breath as I just stared at it. Folks ask, how did it feel? Well, it felt like all the feelings.

I think physiologically, my body flooded with adrenaline. I felt cold and hot. I felt completely confused. It was almost like I got punched. I was really mad that it happened at that moment because I was already working up confidence to do my live talk for the first time; I was putting a lot of energy into preparing. As soon I calmed myself I bit, I immediately started investigating.

Hidden in a footnote, DeAngelo is willing to plea.

I started looking and found out it was something that Paige St. John had found in a footnote on a motion that was filed by the defense. Buried in the Motion to Dismiss, the defense slipped it into a footnote. This motion is looking to six-furcate (my word because bifurcate isn’t applicable here), the cases by jurisdiction. When the prosecution decided to prosecute everything in Sacramento, I started calling it the big gulp.

Motion to Dismiss DeAngelo Willing to Plea

The prosecution did this in April of 2019 if I have my facts right. There are a couple of reasons why this big gulp strategy is important. First, it makes the prosecution big. As you can imagine, we’re going into a trial that’s got all this stuff happening from all these jurisdictions. So that’s a big deal. And second, it makes it expensive. Prosecutors from the different jurisdictions must come to Sacramento. It could be argued it reduces costs by requiring only one jury, one judge, etc. I’m not a bean counter – either way, we are spending money. This request from the defense would basically disassemble the approach.

Meanwhile, the defense has also asked for money from the different jurisdictions. Now, take a minute and realize what we’ve done here. In America, we believe in law and order. We believe in justice. And our tax dollars are used to support that legal system. And ironically enough, our tax dollars are paying for D’Angelo’s defense. That is how we fund the public defender’s office. It comes from the Sacramento County budget.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable for them to ask for money and or other resources from the different jurisdictions, because that really should be a shared financial responsibility when it comes to defending D’Angelo. That shouldn’t that burden shouldn’t fall wholly on Sacramento County.

The question I have is why did they wait till now? The prosecution made this clear that this is how we were proceeding months ago. It seems odd. I feel like this defense team just woke up since the January hearing. The judge said, no, we’re not getting a continuance until January 2021. No, we’re not going to sit around and wait for you to go through all that discovery you’ve had forever. Let’s get it together here. Let’s prioritize. (Okay, he didn’t say those last two things – I’m just saying that on his behalf.)

The idea is we’ve got to move forward. That’s the point. And I wish I could have been in court the cheering when he said that – I was home sick with Norovirus. He set the date for May 12th, and that’s just about eight weeks out. And just like that, things finally started to happen.

Anxiety is increasing among those who’ll have to testify.

They knew it conceptually, but this made it very real. This is especially true among the people who are being asked to testify, relative to the kidnapping charges. Those are the rape charges and not the murder charges. In the rape charges, where a person was moved or there was some sort of act that was considered kidnapping, those became charges that could still be applied and weren’t affected by the statute of limitations. And they also helped with special circumstances, which are required for the death penalty request.

As you can imagine, those folks who are scheduled to testify are starting to get anxious. And that’s hard. I guess we’re unique because as victims, we became a squad.

Not everybody has joined us. Some folks have remained anonymous and I’m sorry, they haven’t. They’re really missing one of the most healing parts of this whole thing. For those of us who do get together, we’re working hard to support one another.

We’ve discovered, now there are two groups of victims.

First there are those that have cases that cannot be tried. All of the rapes hit the statute of limitations. With the exception of the cases with new kidnapping charges, the rapes victims are not part of the active group. The second groups are the victims who have charges that can be applied. This is suddenly an odd shift to the murders from Southern California.

If you think about it, at least I grew up thinking the murder first was a murder in a small town. When I heard about the other murders in Southern California, I considered myself part of that group. Absolutely. As those as we were all connected through DNA. When our murders suddenly connected to the rapes in Sacramento (and beyond), I instantly identified with the people in Sacramento.

These are my people. I’ve spent so much time, so much of my life has been spent in Sacramento – gramma lived here, I went to UC Davis and Sac State. It’s always felt like a second home to me. When we came together, we were all one. But now there’s a slightly different dynamic going on.

And I don’t think it’s particularly playing out in terms of our relationships.

But some of us, including me, feel like we are representing those that don’t get to have a voice in this right now; those that don’t have active charges. These are the things nobody talks about. But it really is interesting how the legal system has an impact even on relationships, even on your ability to be a victim and how that works. And that’s absolutely in play.

Let’s go back to DeAngelo being willing to plea.

Why was that put in writing? Because the minute you write down that someone is willing to plea you taint the prospective jury pool because you’ve essentially said your client’s willing to plead guilty. We don’t have any information on what he’s willing to plead guilty to, but I sense the defense isn’t focused on the what. How do we possibly move forward at this point? I mean, this is really screwed up if you think about it.

I wonder about legal malpractice. I cannot think of a case, and I’d love folks to let me know if they have any examples of where that kind of information was leaked publicly. I’m really pissed about how this is being handled.

This is classic D’Angelo: controlling the narrative.

I am so tired of this man who lived his full 72 years out in the wild doing all these awful things, but also having his nice little middle age, and early senior years, living undetected without any constraints, without any rules – living in Citrus Heights, doing his thing, fishing, riding his motorcycle, being a jerk.

He’s been out there and now he gets to control the narrative when it comes to how we’re going to find him guilty. I’m hot about this. I don’t want any part of this. At a minimum, I feel like a plea is too soon. At a minimum, we should have this prelim that’s coming up in May. And here’s why: there are still people who aren’t sure he’s the guy.

Innocent until proven guilty.

This is truly how it’s supposed to work. It’s the responsibility of the prosecution to prove that this man is guilty. Maybe we have the wrong guy. I don’t think that’s possible because SCIENCE (DNA), but I’m going to give nonbelievers the benefit of the doubt. Then let’s go ahead and move into the prelim. Another very big reason why a prelim is important: DeAngelo didn’t just hurt humans and families, but he terrorized whole communities. I feel it’s his civic responsibility to sit in a courtroom for at least eight to 12 weeks before copping a plea.

He needs to face his accusers and listen to all the evidence that supports holding him over to trial. That is the point of the prelim: to show there is enough evidence to bind him over to trial. And after we all hear that; after we hear the evidence – I know I know there’s evidence beyond DNA – then he can make a plea. And that can work through the plea process.

But let’s go ahead and move with this prelim. I think it’s owed to far more than just the victims. It is owed to all of us who lived in fear. I lived in fear for decades. I didn’t even know there was a serial killer that I was afraid of for the first 20 years. I thought there was just a crazy person who hated my dad and Charlene. Around 2000, I find out.

That coincided to exactly to when I had Katie. Suddenly I felt more vulnerable than I’ve ever felt in my life because now there was a bad guy out there and I didn’t have any idea what he might do next. Based on his behavior in Sacramento, I knew he’d revisit the crimes by calling people that he had hurt before.

In our case, he didn’t have my dad and Charlene to call. He only had his kids. I did feel vulnerable and I did feel afraid. I did wacky things like bells on doors and having a bat by my bed. So many of us did things to protect ourselves. That’s why it’s really important to me that he have to sit in court for at least the prelim.

What will he tell us if he does negotiate a plea?

I have had my expectations set that he is not inclined to share information with us. He is not inclined in any way to help us feel better about what’s happened. He’s not inclined in any way to make this any easier on anybody but himself. If we move forward with a plea without him having to ever walk into a real courtroom, he wins.

Once again, he’s controlling the narrative and he’s controlling the outcome. And I’m so over that. So one of the things that. So where we are. So one of the things that’s happened that came out the news in the last two days, I think is that it is true that I believe it’s only the people that have charges pending, got letters from the defense.

When it all comes down to it, the elected District Attorneys are the deciders. So maybe this really is up to you, the constituents. The DA’s represent you. Let them know what you want in this case.

February 2020 Closes with a Few DeAngelo Surprises

Many of us have waited so long for this show to get started. Thanks to DNA, I never worried we’d get the wrong guy – he left his mark everywhere. But even the biggest cynic in the room – yeah, me – never thought things would take this long just to generate momentum.

The first surprise: getting a date for the preliminary trial to start.

I have to say, the survivors have much love for the judge who basically said, put a fork in it, I’m done. Let’s get things moving. That was in January. I know the public defender’s office wanted a lot more time, but it’s coming up on two years and honestly, there are very few “hooks” for a defense. Maybe none really except how the GED Match site was used to find a suspect, but after that, there’s very little to defend.

We’ve had the same, consistent suspect since the DNA was connected across the crimes in the early 2000s. Seriously: same guy. If you accept the DNA matches connecting all the crimes, the only thing you can fight is the matching process.

And that brings us to February development number one:

Prosecutors seek additional DNA from DeAngelo.

I did not see this coming; especially now. Again, we’ve all been aboard this prosecution boat for 22 months, how did they not know they would need more DNA before this moment in time. I don’t want to piss off the prosecution, but c’mon, how could this not have been on someone’s to do list before February of 2020? I’ve heard they ran out and need more for testing. I don’t know what’s true, but I do know we could have expected a fight (see not much to defend above). The defense is almost obliged to defend this request lest they be accused of malpractice. Apparently, these motions will be heard at the hearing on March 12th. Stay tuned.

On to development number two:

Sacramento public defender’s office wants assistance from other jurisdictions.

This seems fair. They share an inordinate amount of the burden and it wasn’t their decision to jam a giant pile of crimes into a single trial. Sacramento taxpayers shouldn’t have to shoulder this whole burden. They should be getting support from other public defenders in the other jurisdictions.

Where I’m stuck is why is this just coming up now. I think we heard it first at the hearing in January (I wasn’t there so I don’t have first-hand knowledge, but I think it was brought up). This should have been an issue the minute the prosecution strategy was to lump everything together in 2018. My gut says this is a window into what’s happening at the public defender’s office and it doesn’t show well. Prioritizing what-matters-most is a life skill most of us have mastered (or at least understand). How could this issue languish until now?

And a snarky aside: if you crime so hard you trigger charges that can still stand 40 years later in six jurisdictions, you should not be entitled to a red carpet defense. I mean, I can point to legions of folks in prison right now who are jailed because they didn’t get a good defense. Why should this guy get anything better? This guy we have on DNA.

Finally, development number three:

Anxiety is starting to build among the survivors.

This was going to happen. It was inevitable. I’m feeling it every day and I don’t have to testify. I’m anxious for my brother and my (survivor) friends who really aren’t interested in going back to that ugly place. Nobody wants to be re-victimized. I don’t know anyone that wants to sit across from him in a courtroom and look at him. But it’s a necessary evil. To manage my anxiety, I focus on the process. I want this prelim to happen and I want it to be uncomfortable – for him.

He needs to be uncomfortable as he sits there on his non-existent ass, hour after hour, as the world talks about him and his repugnant behavior.

He needs to be uncomfortable as he listens to the witnesses, one by one, that will include the women and men whose lives he interrupted and changed because he didn’t want to get help.

He needs to be uncomfortable when he must shut-up and listen as people describe the fear, violence and terror he delivered on every victim and community.

I know he’s a psychopath, but let’s all pray this won’t make him happy. Let’s pray it makes him damn miserable as his daughters hear every ugly detail. I regret they must go through this, but if it brings him misery, I’m all in.

I expect more hijinks before we get started in May. I’m going to pick-up the podcast in March and start recording again. I plan to attend court and do a daily update. Stay tuned for details.

It’s not too late to get tickets!

Folks in Santa Cruz, Sacramento and Ventura, please come meet me live in March. It’s free and I look forward to seeing you! Get free tickets here.

I Have a Horse in this Race | The California Death Penalty

I was probably a preteen when I first discussed the death penalty with my dad – he was against it. He’d actually tried a death penalty case (the guy was guilty) and interestingly enough, Lyman had figured out there was a way to potentially get him off based on a technicality. But, as I understand the story, instead he pursued a vigorous defense and the guy was still convicted (they had him dead to rights I guess). Ironically, no one remembers if he got the death penalty or not.

Today Gavin Newsom stopped executions for now in California.

I could not be happier about this. I don’t think the death penalty serves any purpose other than showcasing our inhumanity. [Yes, I can already hear you saying, “But these people aren’t human!” You might be right, but I’m talking about us.] With DeAngelo in a cage, believe me, I know that argument well. As I sit there, staring at him, my eyes burning into the back of his head, it’s like I’m trying to jiggle The Force to try and figure out how a human could hurt so many other humans.

I’m sure this action will upset a lot of people and as I straddle the line here, I get it. I think the Polly Klaas case is one many of us in the Bay Area shared our feelings with Ronn Owens who aptly admitted he wasn’t pro-death penalty but Richard Allen Davis was a unadulterated piece of shit who needed to be put down. Fun fact: if you go look at that link about Davis, you’ll see why this led to California passing a three strikes law. This case was beyond sickening and picturing him dead satisfied a lot of feelings. But it didn’t bring Polly back.

“California’s modern history reflects a population that recognizes that the criminal justice system has been too harsh on the poor and minorities.”

That’s from today’s LA Times. And it rings true. Nothing demonstrates the inequities in the system than last week’s sentencing of Paul Manafort, which seems relatively light compared to this woman who voted by mistake. There’s a reason justice has a blindfold on; justice should be fair. But the death penalty is one way justice isn’t fair.

The death penalty isn’t helping anyone.

I want to be incredibly pragmatic about this.

It’s expensive. The special circumstances in the case against DeAngelo is one thing driving up the cost. I can’t factor out that extra expense, but if we use this data, someone who is good at math can maybe extrapolate what percentage of the estimated $21 million is due to the death penalty.

In a 2012 study of the costs of capital punishment in California, it was determined that on average, death penalty cases involved 120 more court days than non-capital cases at a rate of $3,589 per court day for an additional cost of $430,680 per case. California estimated that it costs an additional $90,000 per year to house a death row inmate. A California study concluded that due to appeals the average time from conviction to the filing of a federal habeas corpus had risen to nearly five years from 1.5 years in 1979.

read more…

It consumes resources. Every lawyer working a death penalty case, is no longer available to work on other cases. In addition, it’s likely to be our best lawyers who really understand criminal law, who are defending these folks.

It treats Death Row inmates differently. They’re on Death Row and so they get a private cell, private yard time and privileges. This has been a hot button for me. I want DeAngelo in the general population, not on some private Row with privacy. Nope, these jerks (think Scott Peterson) deserve to have to negotiate with other prisoners. I would love to watch DeAngelo try his “angry old man” act on a 24 year old who’s got no time for that.

And finally….

The Death Penalty doesn’t do what it’s intended to do. It’s supposed to be a deterrent to committing crimes. As we know with DeAngelo – who was a cop! – he knew what the death penalty meant. He was extremely aware. But he gave no f-cks. None.

Instead, the death penalty makes us culpable. It doesn’t bring back our loved ones. It doesn’t give us closure – how can killing someone heal anyone? We can’t meet cruelty with cruelty. If we do, how are we different? Pretending there’s a moral high-ground disappears once death is evoked. And God forbid, we execute someone who is innocent – that’s a risk we should be unwilling to take (but DeAngelo is guilty – we have DNA baby).

I spoke with Sister Helen Prejean on Twitter once. I squealed with glee when she messaged me back. Her work is amazing and there are many resources on her site. I encourage you to click around and see what you think.

Thank you Gavin, you might have just saved the state millions on our case alone.

I have a call into my Ventura folks to see what this means for the case. We’re heading back to court on April 10th in Sacramento. I’ll be there.

Stranger Things – The Upside Down World of Murder – Adrian Gonzales

We were stopped in the left turn lane of an intersection that was five lanes deep. Adrian was super mad and started to get out of the passenger seat – which means he would have stepped out into traffic. I shouted stop! And locked all the doors. For some reason that worked. That moment scared the crap out of me. He could have been killed and he didn’t care. 

The car was overly-full of kids. I never owned a van but I probably should have because I was the mom who drove the kids around, dragged them to events or adventures. This time I had signed all the kids up for a day at UC Santa Cruz. It was a kids’ conference or something but it meant these middle school kids had a chance to hang out on campus and see what college might be like. The big promise was I’d buy them lunch at the dining commons. I knew that would blow their minds.

The Squad: Adrian, Chels, Eva, Cas and Katie at UC Santa Cruz, May 2015

Choose whatever floats your boat.

It did. Never have I seen kids so happy to pick and choose any food they want in any order they want to eat it.

Adrian Gonzales
Crappy shot but you get the idea – ice cream first – with plenty of sprinkles. It was nice seeing him so happy.

It was on our way home from this outing that Adrian got so mad. The rest of us in the car could never remember what set him off. Based on what I’ve learned since that day, I have a feeling it was the fact we were taking him home. The fun day filled with promise of what the future could hold for these amazing kids, was coming to an end. It was time to go home and as I would learn later, home was even worse than we realized.

That was May 2013.

My daughter Katie (in the rainbow striped dress) and her squad had a busy spring. Eighth grade was ending for the girls and they were ready to hit high school. Adrian was an artist and had connected with the girls around art. He was behind them by one year and in a weird way, Katie and her buddy Em were ready for the change. Adrian was intense and often chatted online with f them at night. Mostly he talked about suicide. It was so bad, I tried to get him help. I had found a counselor and was even willing to pay for it. But if you aren’t someone’s legal guardian, it turns out help is nearly impossible to get.

From what I understood, Adrian lived with his mom who was typically not home. She was with “boyfriends” who lived anywhere from Santa Cruz to San Francisco and points in between. When we dropped him off, we made him wave from the third floor window because we wanted to make sure he got in safely. He thought we were nuts – he was so used to being home alone, he couldn’t figure out this “safe” thing. He was just 13.  When he wasn’t home alone, it seemed his life was worse. He could hear his mother having sex with different men. I learned later the walls in his apartment didn’t go all the way up to the ceiling; they were more like partitions creating the illusion of privacy but providing next to none.

Adrian Gonzales
They lived at The Tannery – an artist colony in Santa Cruz, He lived in the upper left, back apartment. None of us ever went into his apartment; he didn’t want anyone in there.

The threats of suicide became more frequent as the end of school got closer. He knew he was going to lose the girls as friends because they were moving on. I finally had to coach the girls that they needed to tell him they could no longer talk about his suicidal thoughts unless he got help. He was being manipulative and it was starting to wear on them and he wasn’t taking any steps to change his reality.

One message he sent to Katie turned out to be eerily prescient two years later: “I’m afraid something bad is going to happen in high school.”

On the occasion of Katie’s 16th birthday.

A few days before Katie’s 16th birthday, a news story broke. A young girl, Maddy,  was missing at The Tannery. I immediately thought about Adrian. As I had expected, we had lost touch when the girls started high school. A yeaer later Adrian had eventually ended up at Katie’s high school and they had said “hi”, but that was about all. As I listened to the news, I had a dark thought about Adrian but pushed it out of my head. Maddy was missing but she could have just wandered off. Or maybe one of the homeless folks who frequented the San Lorenzo river area had engaged her in conversation and she was just down river somewhere; safe but out of bounds.

And then, two days later I was listening to KGO and the bad news came on. Her body had been found in a recycle bin in the garage at The Tannery. And a boy was in custody. Before they spoke, I knew who it was. A future murderer had been in my house. Had been close friends with my daughter!

Adrian Gonzales
Just an ordinary day after school at Jen’s house.

Having grown up scared of a murderer I couldn’t see and didn’t know, finding out someone who we trusted and cared about had done something so awful freaked me out. I was blown away and how much Maddy looked like Katie and her friends – especially the freckles. Katie and her friends were struggling too. How could the boy they knew do something so horrendous.

July 30 was Katie’s 16th birthday and we had planned to get her driver’s license that day. We did manage that, but her day started with attending Adrian’s arraignment on her own. I had warned her about the media and she was interviewed, but the kid did pretty great. We didn’t miss the irony that in our teens, we had both dealt with a serious crime.

What is just in this case?

Katie and I provided information to both the prosecution and the defense. Katie had hours of Facebook chats to share and we told both sides about his horrible mother and his depression. We agreed we never thought he’d hurt someone else, but he also talked about dark thoughts he had he couldn’t share with anyone. I have to say, he’s probably right. How could he share these kinds of thoughts with anyone and get real help. Especially as a minor.

Last summer, Adrian was heading back to court and his lawyers asked to talk with me. They told me how many times CPS and others were involved in his life and how every stinking time, the resolution ended with calling his mother. No one ever got she was the problem. Routinely, she blamed him for being bad in some way and convinced these child advocates that really she was the victim and Adrian was just a troubled child. Over and over she blamed him. The kid we knew wasn’t bad. He was an artist and a poet and seriously sad.

They wanted me to possibly testify on his behalf but for the first time, I honestly didn’t know if that was something I could do. The crime was horrendous and I had no idea of he could ever be rehabilitated. For someone who lives with a justice monitor lives in my brain like a smoke detector, I had no idea what justice would mean in this case. I didn’t want him executed, but life in prison seemed reasonable. I like to think people aren’t permanently damaged, but how do we know? And I still felt pretty guilty about not fighting harder to get him help. Instead I joined a long list of adults who failed this kid. And eight year old Maddy paid the price.

I did not testify.

So I’m still knocked a little sideways when I see Adrian in the news. The day after I was laid off this week (let’s remember this was just two days after seeing the Golden State Killer for the first time), Adrian appeared on the front page of our local newspaper. I’m disappointed that he’s pleading not guilty,but I suppose they are working to negotiate some kind of sentence that might one day let him get out.

It’s so strange to be on two different sides of murder.

To understand the “before story” and know when someone is suffering, and yet be unable to do a damn thing to change the course of history. You can’t prove a negative. There’s no way to know if I had been able to do something, if Maddy would still be here today. But that’s the logic being used by politicians today: we need to help the mentally ill. Guess what? It’s really, really hard.

We’ve done everything possible to make it impossible.