Testimony wrapped up Friday in the trial of the man accused in the “Grim Sleeper” killings of nine women and a teenage girl.Jurors in the trial of Lonnie David Franklin Jr. were told that they will hear closing arguments from attorneys Monday.
“We have reached a milestone, ladies and gentlemen. Both sides have concluded the evidence,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy told the panel after the prosecution’s sole rebuttal witness finished his testimony.
The judge told jurors — who heard about two months of testimony — that the attorneys’ closing arguments “will take some time,” and likely would continue into Tuesday.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Franklin, who is charged with murdering nine women, 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.
The 63-year-old former city garage attendant and sanitation worker also is charged with the attempted murder of Enietra Washington, who survived being shot in the chest and pushed out of a moving vehicle in November 1988.
In testimony Feb. 25, she identified Franklin in court as her assailant and said he took a Polaroid-type photo of her after shooting her.
In her opening statement Feb. 16, Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told jurors that DNA and firearms evidence linked Franklin to the attacks.
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, and all of the victims were “connected to the same serial killer” either through DNA evidence or firearms evidence, the prosecutor said.
“And that serial killer, ladies and gentlemen, is the defendant Lonnie Franklin,” Silverman told the jury.
She said eight of the victims were linked through firearms evidence, and DNA collected from seven of the victims was linked to the same male profile, which was matched to “the defendant’s unique DNA profile” during an LAPD task force investigation into the killings.
Jurors watched a videotape of Franklin being interrogated by LAPD detectives. He denied killing anyone, but called one of the victims “butt ugly” and another “fat” after the detectives showed him photos of them.
When the defense started its portion of the case last month, one of Franklin’s attorneys, Seymour Amster, cited more than 20 DNA tests of victims’ clothing and sexual assault kits that excluded his client as a contributor.
“Lonnie Franklin was excluded as the source of the major DNA profile. The minor portion was inconclusive,” defense attorney Seymour Amster told the jury over and over again in his opening statement, referencing samples taken from victims’ bodies or clothing.
In each instance, Amster detailed the number of other sources of DNA found in semen and other swabs and samples.
Amster also questioned Washington’s testimony, saying she told a friend that more than one person assaulted her. He told jurors that Washington “repeatedly used the word ‘they’ and not a single person.”
Franklin is charged with murdering:
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
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