Santa Barbara's District Attorney Joyce Dudley was one of eight chief county prosecutors in California who worked together to send Joseph James DeAngelo, the infamous serial murderer and rapist known as the Golden State Killer, to life in prison without possibility of parole.
"The defendant deserves no mercy," Judge Michael Bowman declared in a socially-distanced hearing in Sacramento Superior Court on August 21, as he pronounced the maximum sentence of 11 consecutive life terms without parole for 13 murders which DeAngelo admitted, with an additional life term for 13 kidnappings. In all, the team of California prosecutors have said that Mr. DeAngelo admitted crimes against 87 victims at 53 separate crime scenes between 1975 and 1986.
Among the victims were four people from Santa Barbara County: Dr. Robert Offerman, 44 and Debra Manning, 35, shot to death in 1979; and 35-year old Cheri Domingo and her boyfriend, 27-year old Gregory Sanchez, in 1981.
Santa Barbara DA Dudley addressed the court during the sentencing, which followed several days of powerfully emotionally statements from victims and family members, including Cheri Domingo's daughter, Debbi, and son, David; and Gregory Sanchez's nephew, Brian.
Although her seethingly passionate comments about DeAngelo were widely quoted -- "It wasn't enough for him to rape, beat, stab or shoot the victims, he wanted to take inflicting human pain to the highest level possible. Therefore he often ensured that their loved ones saw or heard his victims being tortured or killed," she said -- less noted were the soothing and deeply personal words she addressed to the families of victims.
As the final chapter closed in the prosecution of perhaps the most monstrous criminal in California history, the sentencing statement by Santa Barbara's district attorney merits publication in full, for the record. Here is a transcript of what Dudley said:
"Thank you, Your Honor.
Twenty-five years ago, I prosecuted my first sexual assault case, in which the percipient witness was a loved one of the victim’s. At the time, I assumed the only traumatized person would be the victim.
Three groups of people in this Courtroom know that this assumption was wrong: The percipient witnesses of the crimes committed by the Defendant; the Prosecutors who prosecuted these crimes and the Defendant himself.
I know the percipient witnesses know that because they lived through it. I know the Prosecutors know that because they have listened compassionately to these witnesses, and I know the Defendant knows that because he is driven to inflict the maximum amount of pain that he possibly can, whenever he can.
"Hence, it wasn’t enough for him to rape, beat, stab or shoot the victims, he wanted to take inflicting human pain to the highest level possible. Therefore, he often ensured that their loved ones saw or heard his victims being tortured or killed.
That’s just who Joe DeAngelo is!
My best friend, Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey, recently told me, “If you really want to hurt me, hurt someone I love”.
Well, this Defendant really wanted to hurt people, and so he did just that.
Around the same time as I prosecuted that sexual assault case I also prosecuted my first rape of an intoxicated person case. Again, at that point I made the uneducated assumption that if you couldn’t remember being raped, you were better off than someone who could remember all the gory details.
Once again, I was wrong.
And how do I know that? Because the victim told me.
She used words that I still remember to this day. She said, “Every morning when I wake up, my first thought is that I know something terrible happened to me; I just don’t know what... I don’t think I can ever get over this until I know those details." And then she cried.
A long minute later, she added, “At times I’m actually jealous of rape victims who remember being raped.”
Yesterday, as I listened to Debbi Domingo’s powerful words, I remembered that rape survivor while Debbie was talking about not being able to enter her home or know the details of what happened.
Then I thought of Dave Domingo, Brian Sanchez, Dr. Offerman, (all of whom are here today), and all of the other victims’ loved ones, who will never know the details of what happened to their child, their mother, their father, their uncle, their friend.
And I thought, maybe some of them also felt they couldn’t begin their healing process until they knew all the details.
To you, I humbly suggest you don’t.
I, too, have experienced great loss, and I believe you, like me, have a hole in your heart that you hope will never heal because you were fortunate enough to experience love - by truly loving them.
I believe that feeling is what you need to know in order to proceed with your healing process.
I also believe what you need, is what you already have, and that is the knowledge that in life, you loved them and they loved you!
Now that this case is over, perhaps what you now need to do is to concentrate on the details of that love.
Focus on the things that made them loveable and allow yourself to let those memories make you smile again.
I believe it is possible that true healing can come from that knowledge.
Knowing you loved your loved one and were loved by them is truly the most powerful knowledge of all.
Thank you, Your Honor."
Images: Screen shot of Zoom image of Joyce Dudley addressing the court at Golden State Killer sentencing in Sacramento August 21, 2020; DeAngelo sits between his attorneys at his sentencing; DA Dudley with Debbi and David Domingo.