'I'll Be Gone in the Dark' Makers React to Golden State Killer Guilty Plea

HBO schedulers had a fortuitous sense of timing this week. On Sunday, June 28, they started airing I'll Be Gone in the Dark, an adaptation of Michelle McNamara's true crime book about her hunt for the Golden State Killer. Then, on June 29, Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. pled guilty to 13 murders and 13 charges of kidnapping for purposes of robbery, as well as confessing to 62 other crimes whose statutes of limitation have passed.

In a makeshift socially distanced courtroom in a Cal State Sacramento ballroom, 74-year-old DeAngelo confessed to his crimes from the 1970s and '80s in front of a room of 200 people, including his victims and their families.

There was, however, an additional emotional element to the Golden State Killer's confession. I'll Be Gone in the Dark writer McNamara died in 2016, before she was able to finish her book and before DeAngelo was arrested.

Her husband Patton Oswalt, who compiled all of McNamara's notes to get the book published, reacted live to the hearing as it happened on Twitter. He wrote: "The most important people at the #GoldenStateKiller hearing today are the survivors. All present, all staring directly at that zilch of a human being, and he can't return their gaze. That's what I'm focusing on."

The most important people at the #GoldenStateKiller hearing today are the survivors. All present, all staring directly at that zilch of a human being, and he can’t return their gaze. That’s what I’m focusing on. https://t.co/1lqZSIyt14

— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) June 29, 2020

“When asked to describe the assailant, Jane Doe said he had a small penis.” The crowd then broke out in applause. #GoldenStateKiller pic.twitter.com/hEkvO0m68B

— Billy Jensen (@Billyjensen) June 29, 2020

As befits a comedian, Oswalt also picked up on the one funny moment in the hearing. He retweeted investigative journalist Billy Jensen, who wrote: "'When asked to describe the assailant, Jane Doe said he had a small penis.' The crowd then broke out in applause."

I'll Be Gone in the Dark director Liz Garbus was also following along with proceedings on Twitter, where she summed up what was going on in the ballroom. She wrote: "Guilty plea to all charges counts. Guilty of 13 counts of murder. Uncharged acts to be admitted to. This is huge for survivors.

"Remove penalty of death. Admitting wrongdoing. All of the murders. All other charged and uncharged crimes know against him. The wishes of the survivors. Life without parole."

Guilty plea to all charges counts. Guilty of 13 counts of murder. Uncharged acts to be admitted to. This is huge for survivors.

— Liz Garbus (@lizgarbus) June 29, 2020

As part of a thread, she added: "34-45 year old crimes. Family members of murder victims have waited for decades. Survivors of rape have waited for decades. Survivors will be able to hear this admission."

After DeAngelo's guilty plea, proceedings are set to continue on August 17, where the judge will hear a week of impact statements from victims before declaring a sentence.

Though the survivors of DiAngelo's crime did not have the opportunity to speak at the hearing, a number of then chose to stand as the details of the crimes against them were read out.

I'll Be Gone in the Dark airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on HBO.