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The man accused of being the 'Golden State Killer' has been formally charged on two counts of murder.

Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, did not enter a plea during his first court appearance at Sacramento County Superior Court.

Handcuffed in a wheelchair and dressed in an orange jumpsuit, DeAngelo was surrounded by five police officers as he listened to the judge with his eyes barely open.

DeAngelo, a former police officer, is suspected of being the Golden State Killer, who terrorised California in the 1970s and '80s with a series of murders and rapes.

Also known as the "East Area Rapist", the attacker killed 13 people and raped nearly 50 women.

:: Six of the most notorious unsolved murders

Image:DeAngelo has been linked to the Golden State Killer case

A court official read the details of the charges DeAngelo faces and a judge asked if he had a lawyer.

In a frail voice, DeAngelo responded: "I have a lawyer."

He has been denied bail.

Reports from the time show DeAngelo was fired from the nearby Auburn Police Department in 1979 after being arrested for stealing a can of dog repellent and a hammer from a drug store.

Police who arrested him said the breakthrough was like finding "a needle in a haystack" after the suspect was tracked down using DNA taken from two killings in 1978.

Investigators matched crime-scene DNA with genetic material stored in an online database by a distant relative.

An FBI truck was seen outside a home belonging to DeAngelo
Image:An FBI truck was seen outside a home belonging to DeAngelo

DeAngelo's public defender Diane Howard spoke for her client outside court.

"We have the law to suggest that he is innocent until he's proven guilty and that's what I'm going to ask everyone to remember," she said.

"I feel like he's been tried in the press already."

During the hunt for the killer, investigators last year used information from genetic websites that led to the wrong man, court records show.

A 73-year-old man in a nursing home was ordered to provide a DNA sample.

Original Article

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Sky News

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