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Judge Weighs Release Of Warrants In Golden State Killer Case

(Paul Kitagaki Jr. / The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool)

Joseph James DeAngelo, a former police officer accused of being the Golden State Killer, stands in a Sacramento jail court on May 29, 2018. DeAngelo is suspected in at least a dozen killings and roughly 50 rapes in the 1970s and '80s.

(Paul Kitagaki Jr. / The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool)

Kathleen Ronayne, Associated Press

UPDATED 3:38 p.m.

(AP) — A judge on Tuesday weighed how much information to release about the arrest of a former police officer accused of being the Golden State Killer.

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Sweet began considering the issue after a hearing where attorneys for suspect Joseph DeAngelo argued that sharing the details could lead to an unfair trial.

Sweet indicated he's likely to release some information and is working with prosecutors and defense attorneys to determine how much to redact, which would continue to shield some details from public view.

The Associated Press and other news outlets are pushing for information from search and arrest warrants to be made public.

Transparency helps the public act as a check on the legal process and ensures investigators are acting appropriately, said Duffy Carolan, a lawyer for the news outlets.

"The press, the public and the victims deserve open proceedings," she argued. "Courts have been very clear that the public's right of access is not limited to what may ultimately be deemed relevant at the time of trial."

Authorities arrested Joseph DeAngelo, 72, in April and said he is responsible for at least a dozen killings and roughly 50 rapes in the 1970s and '80s. Investigators have searched his home in Citrus Heights, California, his computer and his cellphone.

Defense attorneys said the warrants include information about other allegations against DeAngelo that can no longer be tried, as well as details on evidence and methods.

Making that information public could taint jurors and witnesses, defense lawyer David Lynch said.

"We have witnesses to events decades ago. Fading memories are going to be a huge issue in this case," he said. "It is easier now before the cat is out of the bag to keep that confidential information confirmation and not prejudice jurors."

Prosecutors did not object to the documents being released but want to shield some information, including investigatory techniques and victim and witness identities.

"The first things we would ask that be redacted are the personal identifying information of the victims, witnesses, law enforcement and even of the defendant in this case," said Amy Holliday with the Sacramento District Attorney's office.

Judge Michael Sweet had the courtroom cleared and then spent a couple of hours with Lynch and Holliday going over the approximately 70 pages of warrants in question. The hearing has been continued until Thursday.

Capital Public Radio's Bob Moffitt contributed to this report.

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