You asked, we answered. Crime Q&A is a series by the Sacto 9-1-1 team where reporters dig up answers to your questions on crime and criminals in the region.
Q: How come Joseph DeAngelo has a court-appointed lawyer instead of a private attorney? Why are taxpayers paying for his defense? He owns a home. Why isn’t that being used for his defense?
A: Joseph DeAngelo, the suspected East Area Rapist, told the court that he could not afford an attorney so he was assigned a public attorney. Legally, if a criminal defendant asks for a public attorney, the court must provide one. Under the Sixth Amendment, all criminal defendants have the right to an attorney.
According to Kim Pedersen, public information officer for the Sacramento Superior Court, in some cases during or shortly after a trial, the county will “raise the issue of the ability to pay, at which time an ability to pay determination is done, and the court can then impose attorney fees to be reimbursed to the county.”
In DeAngelo’s case, the county has not yet considered whether to make any such filing, Pedersen said, noting that the trial will probably not even begin for at least three years due to the large amounts of evidence involved.
The East Area Rapist is believed to have committed at least 51 rapes and l2 murders between 1974 to 1986.
DeAngelo was arrested on April 24 for the 1978 Rancho Cordova murders of Katie and Brian Maggiore. He has since been charged in 12 killings believed to have been committed by the East Area Rapist in Sacramento, Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
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