SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Prosecutors can collect DNA, fingerprints and body photographs of the former policeman suspected of being California’s Golden State Killer, a judge ruled Thursday.
Attorneys for Joseph DeAngelo, 72, had asked the court to block the search, arguing the warrant for the evidence was issued before his arrest. “All we’re asking here is the prosecution follow the rules,” argued David Lynch, one of DeAngelo’s public defenders.
Superior Court Judge Michael Sweet sided with prosecutors, saying courts have repeatedly allowed the collection of such evidence because it’s not a form of testimony. He said it would not harm DeAngelo’s right to protection against self-incrimination under the U.S. Constitution’s 5th Amendment.
“There’s no basis to stop the execution of the search warrant,” Sweet said. “There is no 5th Amendment privilege that I can see.”
He said courts have long upheld the right to collect “non-testimonial” evidence that doesn’t require suspects to share their thoughts and beliefs, such as blood samples or asking a suspect to stand in a lineup.
DeAngelo, appearing in court in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffed to a wheelchair, said nothing. He has not entered a plea.
He was arrested last week and identified by prosecutors as the man responsible for at least a dozen murders and more than 50 rapes across California in the 1970s and ’80s. Prosecutors said they used DNA and a genealogical website to identify DeAngelo.
It was unclear when prosecutors will collect the new evidence. Lynch and Diane Howard, another of DeAngelo’s public defenders, declined comment after Sweet ruled.
Deputy Sacramento County District Attorney Thienvu Ho declined to answer questions about why prosecutors needed the DNA, fingerprints and photographs of DeAngelo’s entire body.
He said in court that the Sacramento County sheriff’s office sought the original warrant, but provided no additional details.
The search and arrest warrants for DeAngelo that contain legal arguments and case details justifying why investigators want to gather the evidence are shielded from public view under a court order. Prosecutors have not explained why the documents are sealed.
The Associated Press and other news organizations have filed a motion to unseal them, which could provide additional details about the DNA techniques prosecutors used to identify him. A hearing is scheduled for May 14.