Golden State Killer Shows the Issue with Statute of Limitations

Wednesday morning at around 2:30 a.m. the Sacramento PD arrested a 72 year old man in connection with the murders of 12 people scattered across the state of CA. The arrest of this one old man provided answers to multiple crime sprees previously to different masked criminals such as the Visalia Ransacker, The East Area Rapist, and The Original Night Stalker, but ultimately were one killer, The Golden State Killer. The Golden State Killer is responsible for 12 murders, 50 rapes, multiple wrongful imprisonments, and countless burglaries, but now 40 years later the only crime he will be charged with is murder. He will never stand in a court of law and answer for the rapes that he committed against 50 women in California.

This might shock some readers. Many news outlets reported the change in California statute of limitations laws in 2016. However, what was not covered was the fact that the law only changed the statute of limitations on instances of rape committed after January 1, 2017.

This is most certainly because the law in the United States ought not be applied “ex post facto.” However, the statute of limitations neither changes the definition of the crime itself nor the punishment associated with the crime. Statute of limitations laws may have served the course of justice one hundred years ago, but now with the advent of DNA science, they simply hinder it. The resistance to prosecuting rape cases with DNA evidence on which the statute of limitations has run out, and which occurred before January 1, 2017, is inspired not by the desire to serve justice, but instead the desire to avoid congestion in the court system.

There is absolutely, no good legal reasoning to uphold Statutes of Limitations on any rape cases, so long as we simultaneously uphold high standards of evidence and proper legal procedure. With the advent of DNA evidence the highest standard of evidence can be met 40 years after the crime is committed. Why then, would we not seek justice? Do we think that time heals the need for justice, for recompense, for closure, the need to feel safe? As if the damage done by the crime of rape is healed within a 3 year of 6 year or 10 year statute of limitations. As if the thirst for justice can be satisfied with time.

One might point out that California has already changed their laws regarding statute of limitations. That is true, however, many states have not. There remains, in many states a statute of limitations on molestation cases and rape of a minor cases. So if your offender didn’t attack you with a knife or a gun, you will not find justice in the court system. If he groomed you from childhood, used the power of religion, or held the threat of economic ruin over your head, your search for justice has an expiration date.

I am sad and angry today for those 50 plus women who will not get to see this man charged with the crimes he inflicted on them. I hope they find solace in the thought that he will rot in jail. I hope they can be comforted, however slightly, by the thought that we all know what he did, and we hate him too. At least today the court of public opinion holds him guilty of the crime of 50 plus rapes in the state of California.

Thank god my children will grow up in a world, in a country, where they will find more perfect justice than our parents did.

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