After calling family members to identify autopsy and crime scene photos of their loved ones, prosecutors rested their case-in- chief Wednesday against the man charged in the “Grim Sleeper” murders of nine women and a teenage girl in a crime spree stretching over more than two decades.
One by one, relatives of nine of the victims were called to the stand in the trial of Lonnie David Franklin Jr. to identify photos — shown on a large courtroom screen — of the victims after their deaths.
“That’s my baby daughter,” Porter Alexander Jr. said after looking at a photo of his 18-year-old daughter, Alicia, who was found shot to death in an alley on Sept. 11, 1988.
Tanya Everett carried a large wad of facial tissue to the stand, where she was asked to identify a photo of her older sister, Debra Jackson, 29, who was found shot to death in August 1985.
“Has your sister been dead for many years?” Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman asked. “Yes,” Everett responded.
Seven other victims’ family members were also called to the stand.
All nine denied any family relation to Franklin.
The 63-year-old former city garage attendant and sanitation worker is charged with the murders of nine women, who were mostly in their 20s, and a 15- year-old girl, and dumping their bodies in alleys and trash bins in and around South Los Angeles, Inglewood and unincorporated Los Angeles County.
Franklin is also charged with the attempted murder of another woman, Enietra Washington, who survived being shot in the chest and pushed out of a moving vehicle in November 1988.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against him.
Franklin’s attorneys are set to begin their portion of the case Monday, with defense lawyer Seymour Amster expected to give his opening statement then.
As the court session drew to an end after the prosecution announced it was resting its case, one of the jurors complained about the delay in the start of the defense’s case.
The male juror said he thought they should have been ready to begin without any delay.
“I don’t appreciate having to wait two days,” he said.
When asked by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy whether he would hold it against the defense, he said that he wouldn’t but considered it “poor management.”
The prosecution’s portion of the case took about a month and included testimony from Washington, who identified Franklin in court as her assailant and said he took a Polaroid-type photo of her after shooting her.
On Tuesday, jurors watched a videotape of Franklin being interrogated by Los Angeles Police Department detectives. He denied killing anyone, but called one of the victims “butt ugly” and another “fat” after the detectives showed him photos of them.
Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told jurors that DNA and firearms evidence linked Franklin to the attacks.
“The evidence in this case will tell a story, a story of a serial killer who stalked the streets of South Los Angeles, a serial killer who is responsible for the murders of 10 women” and the attempted murder of another woman, the prosecutor said in her opening statement last month.
The killings occurred between 1985 and 1988, and 2002 and 2007, with the assailant dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” because of the apparent 13-year break in the killings.
Most of the victims were shot in the chest or strangled, Silverman said.
All of the victims were “connected to the same serial killer” either through DNA evidence or firearms evidence, she said, “and that serial killer, ladies and gentlemen, is the defendant Lonnie Franklin.”
Eight of the victims were linked through firearms evidence, and DNA collected from seven of the victims was linked to the same male profile, the prosecutor said, noting that the male profile was matched to “the defendant’s unique DNA profile” during an LAPD task force investigation into the killings.
Amster waived his opening statement until the start of the defense’s portion of the case.
Along with the killings of Alexander and Jackson, Franklin is charged with murdering:
— Henrietta Wright, 34, who was shot twice in the chest and found dead in an alley on Aug. 12, 1986;
— Barbara Ware, 23, who was shot once in the chest and found dead in an alley on Jan. 10, 1987;
— Bernita Sparks, 26, who was shot once in the chest and found dead in a trash bin on on April 15, 1987;
— Mary Lowe, 26, who was shot in the chest and found dead in an alley on Nov. 1, 1987;
— Lachrica Jefferson, 22, who was found dead from two gunshot wounds to the chest in an alley on Jan. 30, 1988;
— Princess Berthomieux, 15, who was strangled and discovered in an alley in Inglewood on March 19, 2002;
— Valerie McCorvey, 35, who was strangled with a ligature and found dead at the entrance to an alley on July 11, 2003; and
— Janecia Peters, 25, who was shot in the back and found dead inside a sealed plastic trash bag in a trash bin in an alley on Jan. 1, 2007.
Authorities said after Franklin’s arrest that he was identified as a suspect using familial DNA — investigators determined that his son had DNA similar to the killer, and when they subsequently got Franklin’s DNA, his genetic material allegedly matched forensic evidence from eight killings between 1985 and 1988, and three killings between 2001 and 2007.
Detectives have said since Franklin was taken into custody that they were also investigating whether he might be connected to the disappearances or deaths of eight other women whose photos were found in his home near 81st Street and Harvard Boulevard.
— City News Service