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Golden State Killer sentenced to life in prison

Click to play video '‘Golden State Killer’ victims face their attacker as he pleads guilty' ‘Golden State Killer’ victims face their attacker as he pleads guilty
WATCH: 'Golden State Killer' victims face their attacker as he pleads guilty

A former California police officer dubbed the Golden State Killer told victims Friday he was “truly sorry” before he was sentenced to multiple life prison sentences for a decade-long string of rapes and murders that terrorized a wide swath of the state.

Joseph James DeAngelo, 74, pleaded guilty in June to 13 murders and 13 rape-related charges under a plea deal that avoided a possible death sentence.

The punishment imposed by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman means DeAngelo will die in prison for the crimes committed between 1975 and 1986.

Read more: Survivors confront ‘subhuman’ Golden State Killer after decades of rape, murder

“When a person commits monstrous acts, they need to be locked away so they can never harm an innocent person,” the judge said.

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DeAngelo also publicly admitted dozens more sexual assaults for which the statute of limitations had expired. Prosecutors called the scale of the violence “simply staggering,” encompassing 87 victims at 53 crime scenes spanning 11 California counties.

Before sentencing, DeAngelo rose from a wheelchair, took off his mask and said to the court: “I listened to all your statements, each one of them, and I’m truly sorry for everyone I’ve hurt.”

Applause erupted when DeAngelo was remanded to the custody of sheriff’s officials for transfer to the state prison system.

Click to play video 'Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo sentenced to life in prison without parole' Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo sentenced to life in prison without parole
Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo sentenced to life in prison without parole

“The defendant deserves no mercy,” the judge said.

Bowman sentenced DeAngelo in a university ballroom large enough to hold all the survivors and family members of victims. The sentencing followed an extraordinary three-day hearings in which they told in excruciating detail how he had upended their lives.

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DeAngelo sat silently through those hearings, expressionless in a wheelchair that prosecutors contended is a prop to hide his still vigorous health.

Read more: Golden State Killer pleads guilty to 13 murders, admits to dozens of rapes

He eluded capture for four decades until investigators used a new form of DNA tracking to unmask and arrest him in 2018.

One of six prosecutors who spoke before the sentencing, Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward, said the outcome of the case offered hope to victims of long unsolved crimes.

“As science and technology evolve, the space for evil like this to operate within gets smaller and smaller. Simply put, the DNA will never forget,” Ward said.

Click to play video 'Golden State Killer: Joseph DeAngelo apologizes to victims in statement to court' Golden State Killer: Joseph DeAngelo apologizes to victims in statement to court
Golden State Killer: Joseph DeAngelo apologizes to victims in statement to court

Prosecutors initially sought the death penalty but settled for a life term given California’s moratorium on executions, the coronavirus pandemic and the advancing age of DeAngelo, his victim, and witnesses they needed to make their case.

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Bowman sentenced DeAngelo under a plea deal that called for 11 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole, plus 15 life terms with the possibility of parole and eight years for other enhancements.

Associated Press reporter John Antczak contributed to this report from Los Angeles.