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.
Is the DNA link considered strong enough, on its own merit, to convict?
Dr. Ruth Ballard, a forensic DNA expert and a Sacramento State professor, said that her best guess is that it will be.
The DNA that linked the Joseph James DeAngelo to the crimes committed by the East Area Rapist came from semen. According to Ballard, semen classifies as “an extremely good source of DNA.” So the fact that DeAngelo’s DNA was a match is extremely conclusive, she said.
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“It’s likely they had a full genetic profile,” she said. “They would have a match on him that was one in trillions.”
She explained that one would have to test at least fourteen different Earths, each one full of seven billion people, just to find one other person with DNA that matched the East Area Rapist’s profile.
A DNA match on a full genetic profile is “often taken to court as the sole evidence tying somebody to a crime,” Ballard said. Usually, in cases similar to DeAngelo’s, the client ends up taking a plea deal and comes to some sort of agreement with the defendant, according to Ballard.
Is DeAngelo getting along with other inmates and staff in the jail? Has his wife or children visited him? Is he in a cell by himself? Has he had many visitors?
According to Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Shaun Hampton, DeAngelo’s infamy has led him to be classified as a ‘high-notoriety suspect’. That means that in the Sacramento County jail, he is housed by himself.
“That’s done for the safety of the inmate as well as the safety of staff and other inmates,” Hampton said.
Hampton added that when DeAngelo goes out into the yard for recreation, he has to go out out alone, and does not interact with anybody else.
DeAngelo gets regular visits from his attorney, but Hampton has no knowledge of any friends or family that have come to visit. According to the Sheriff’s Department, DeAngelo has had no social visits in the last two weeks. Every inmate is entitled to two 45-minute social visits a week.
When is DeAngelo’s next court date?
His next court date is scheduled for December 6. It is a pretrial conference, where the prosecution and the defense will meet to discuss issues prior to trial.
Why hasn’t DeAngelo entered a guilty plea?
According to previous stories by the Sacramento Bee, it’s not unusual that DeAngelo has not entered a plea yet. Prosecutors are still investigating cases and providing discovery.
Can DeAngelo get mail?
He can – instructions on how to send him, or any Sacramento County inmate, a letter can be found here.
To submit a question to the Crime Q&A, click here.