A judge Friday rejected a defense motion to dismiss the case against the man charged in the “Grim Sleeper” killings of nine women and a teenage girl in a crime spree stretching over more than two decades.
“The motion’s denied,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy said immediately after one of Lonnie David Franklin Jr.’s attorneys made the request at a hearing outside the jury’s presence based on the evidence that was presented during the prosecution’s case-in-chief.
Franklin, a 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.
The defense is scheduled to begin its portion of the case Monday, with attorney Seymour Amster telling the judge that he believes his opening statement to jurors is going to take about an hour.
The prosecution wrapped up its case Wednesday after calling relatives of nine of the victims to identify autopsy and crime scene photos of their loved ones.
The prosecution’s portion of the case — which took about a month — 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.
Jurors also 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.
In her opening statement last month, 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 told jurors.
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.
The prosecutor said all of the victims were “connected to the same serial killer” either through DNA evidence or firearms evidence.
“And that serial killer, ladies and gentlemen, is the defendant Lonnie Franklin,” Silverman told the jury.
Eight of the victims were linked through firearms evidence, and DNA collected from seven of the victims was linked to the same male profile, she said, noting that the male profile was matched to “the defendant’s unique DNA profile” during an LAPD task force investigation into the killings.
Franklin is charged with murdering:
— Debra Jackson, 29, who was found dead from three gunshot wounds to the chest in an alley on Aug. 10, 1985;
— 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;
— Alicia Alexander, 18, who was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest and found in an alley on Sept. 11, 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 in July 2010 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
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: