California

Lawyers for NorCal Rapist suspect want media barred from publishing his photo

NorCal rapist suspect Roy Charles Waller was due back in Sacramento Superior Court on Tuesday, but his appearance was put off until January because his lawyers want the judge to bar media from using photos or video of him.

Waller’s attorneys filed a motion asking Judge Jaime Román to “issue an order restraining the media from broadcasting or disseminating Waller’s image and likeness into the public domain,” a request that even the judge noted is problematic given the widespread use of photos and videos from Waller’s initial court appearance Sept. 24.

Court-appointed attorneys Joseph Farina and Jay Dyer filed the motion arguing that “a review of discovery which was furnished to the defense in the weeks after the arraignment has raised questions regarding the eyewitness identifications of the NorCal Rapist’s physical characteristics in comparison to Waller’s.”

The attorneys did not explain what questions there were regarding his “physical characteristics,” but filed a declaration under seal with the court.

The judge issued a tentative ruling denying the motion and noted “that his ‘image and likeness’ have already been captured by media coverage” and that the court “cannot properly grant” the motion.

But he agreed to put the next scheduled appearance off until January, a move that gives media companies time to file arguments against the defense’s efforts.

A Google search Tuesday morning for “Roy Charles Waller” produced 4,880,000 results, many of them news stories with Waller’s photo or video included.

Waller, who has pleaded not guilty, was due for his second appearance on felony charges related to a string of at least 11 sexual assaults between 1991 and 2006.

Waller, 58, was arrested in September after a DNA hit led authorities to him in essentially the same investigative technique that resulted in the April arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo, who is suspected of being the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer.

He is being held in the Sacramento County Jail and faces a dozen felony charges related to an October 2006 double rape of two roommates in North Natomas. He also is expected to face additional charges in other counties.

The NorCal Rapist is believed to have targeted victims starting in 1991 in Rohnert Park and then expanded his attacks to include victims in Sonoma, Davis, Chico, Woodland, Martinez, Vallejo and Sacramento.

The 2006 North Natomas case is believed to have been the final attack in the series, and authorities sought the public’s help over the years in finding a suspect.

The assailant sometimes used a handgun to subdue his victims, and at times forced women to drive to ATM machines and withdraw cash from their accounts.

Waller was a safety specialist at UC Berkeley and had never come under suspicion until about 10 days before his arrest. Investigators searching for a suspect entered DNA from the NorCal Rapist series of attacks into the GEDmatch genealogy website and — just as in the DeAngelo case — found a close match.

Investigators then built out a family tree from the individual whose DNA was found on that site, and eventually they turned their attention to Waller, whose physical description matched the suspect and who had lived near communities where women had been attacked.

Investigators then set up surveillance on Waller’s Benicia home and recovered a drinking straw from his trash that produced DNA matching the DNA from the crime scenes, court records say.

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