Nearly two years after his arrest, suspected Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo has issued a statement through his lawyers with an offer to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, instead of the originally-proposed death penalty.

DeAngelo was arrested in April 2018 and charges with 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of rape-related charges dating back to the 1970s and 80s.

It was the first time a genealogy website database had been used to identify DNA from a cold case.

At the time of his arrest, it was announced that he would face the death penalty upon conviction.

The New York Times reports that DeAngelo, a former police officer, had his lawyers offer the guilty plea in a court motion this week, writing in a footnote that “Mr. DeAngelo is 74 years old. He has offered to plead to the charges with a lifetime sentence.”

DeAngelo’s plea offer comes after the Sacramento County Superior Court reportedly entered not guilty pleas on his behalf, without the approval of DeAngelo and his lawyers.

In a letter issued to the victims’ families, it’s reported that DeAngelo’s lawyers explained the reasoning behind the guilty-for-life-sentence offer, noting it would bring an end to what would very likely be an extensive trial.

“This particular case is exceedingly complex due to the number of charged crimes and the diverse locations of the charged crimes,” the statement said.

“We would like to reach a resolution of the case that avoids a trial, satisfies all parties and provides a more immediate resolution of the case.”

In response to the guilty plea offer from DeAngelo, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office issued a statement, saying “nothing had changed” with their decision to pursue a death penalty on conviction, refusing to budge from the joint statement made with five other district attorney offices back in 2018.

The Golden State Killer – also known as the Original Night Stalker and the East Area Rapist – is believed to have targeted more than 120 homes across California, and is one of the United States’ most notorious rapists and serial killers.

Image: AAP / José Luis Villegas