Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Houston prosecutor resigns over Facebook post … Protesters call for St. Louis mayor to resign … Bars to close in some California jurisdictions.
The former police officer now known as the Golden State Killer pleaded guilty Monday to 13 murders committed in the 1970s and 80s. In pleading guilty to more than two dozen charges, Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 74, avoided the death penalty and will instead spend the rest of his life in prison. DeAngelo committed rapes, kidnappings and murders across a number of northern California counties. Thien Ho, a prosecutor in Sacramento County, described DeAngelo’s crimes as “simply staggering,” noting that the killer picked up a range of nicknames as he evaded apprehension. “His monikers reflect the sweeping geographical impact of his crime, each time, he escaped—slipping away silently into the night, leaving communities terrified for years,” Ho said. More than 40 relatives of murder victims and women he raped attended the hearing, at one point all standing for Phyllis Henneman, an outspoken rape victim who has been battling cancer and was admitted to the hospital over the weekend. “Rest assured, it’s still an act,” said Jennifer Carole, whose father and stepmother was killed by DeAngelo. DeAngelo, who sat in a wheelchair and spoke softly throughout the hearing, was arrested in 2018 after authorities identified him by connecting matches with his relatives in a consumer genealogy database. The crime solving strategy has provoked debates in state legislatures about how law enforcement should use the databases. [Los Angeles Times; SF Gate]
HOUSTON PROSECUTOR | A top trial prosecutor in Harris County, Texas resigned after she was criticized for sharing a Facebook post that seemed to compare Black Lives Matter protesters with Nazis. Kaylynn Williford said she had shared the post, but hadn’t meant to equate demonstrators with Nazis. But in a letter to her office, DA Kim Ogg said, "I find it necessary and appropriate to state unequivocally that this organization and my Administration has zero tolerance for racism in any shape or form.” [ABC13; New York Times]
ST. LOUIS MAYOR | Protesters in St. Louis are calling for the resignation of Mayor Lyda Krewson after she read aloud on Facebook Live the names and addresses of people who had sent her letters calling for the defunding of the police. Though Krewson later apologized and took down the video, the ACLU called her actions “shocking and misguided … ser[ving] no apparent purpose beyond intimidation.” [CNN]
CLOSING BARS | California Gov. Gavin Newsom is requiring bars in seven counties to close following a surge in coronavirus cases. He is also recommending that they close in eight more. “Covid-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger. That’s why it is critical we take this step to limit the spread of the virus in the counties that are seeing the biggest increases,” he said. [The Hill]
LGBTQ VETERANS | New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that LGBTQ veterans who were denied honorable discharges due to their sexual orientation can now apply to have their state veterans' benefits restored. "Restoring state benefits to LGBTQ veterans who were denied honorable discharge simply for being who they are is the right thing to do and an appropriate way to show our appreciation for their service to this country,” he said. [WGRZ]
Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.