As jurors hear evidence on whether they should recommend a death sentence or life in prison without parole for the man convicted of the “Grim Sleeper” murders, a firearms analyst testified Wednesday that two guns found on the defendant’s property were linked to bullets taken from the bodies of three women.
Daniel Rubin, a criminalist with the Los Angeles Police Department’s firearms analysis unit, said one of the weapons seized at Lonnie David Franklin Jr.’s property during a July 2010 search was test-fired and that he determined the bullets used to kill Georgia Mae Thomas in December 2000 were fired from the same pistol.
Another gun seized from Franklin’s property was test-fired and linked to the two bullets recovered from Sharon Dismuke’s body after she was killed in January 1984, along with the killing of Janecia Peters, who was found dead on New Year’s Day 2007, Rubin testified.
When defense attorney Seymour Amster asked him if he believed he could never be wrong, the firearms analyst responded that all of his findings were verified by another examiner and he has “complete 100 percent confidence that it is correct.”
Along with the two guns, jurors were shown eight other firearms — including a rifle and a sawed-off shotgun — that were seized during an extensive police search of Franklin’s property.
Franklin, 63, was convicted May 5 of the murders of nine women — including Peters — and a teenage girl, along with the attempted murder of Enietra Washington, who was shot in the chest and pushed out of a moving vehicle in November 1988. In testimony Feb. 25, Washington identified Franklin as her assailant.
At the outset of the trial’s penalty phase, Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told jurors that they would hear evidence about a series of other killings she said are linked to Franklin. Jurors did not hear evidence during the first phase of the trial about the other killings with which he was not charged, including the shooting deaths of Thomas and Dismuke.
The prosecution contends evidence also links Franklin to the killing of 28-year-old Inez Warren, who was found shot to death Aug. 15, 1988, and the disappearances of 18-year-old Hawthorne High School senior Ayellah Marshall in January 2006 and Rolenia Morris in September 2005.
Jurors are also expected to hear that Franklin, while serving in the U.S. Army in Germany in 1974, joined with two other men to grab a 17-year-old girl off a street, gang-rape her and take photos of her, the prosecutor said. That woman is expected to testify next week.
Since the penalty phase began last week, the seven-woman, five-man panel has heard from a series of relatives of the murder victims, who have given emotional testimony about how the killings have impacted them and their families.
“It’s been 30 years that I’ve waited for this to happen,” Debra Jackson’s youngest daughter told jurors.
The panel deliberated about 1 1/2 days before finding Franklin guilty of the killings, which occurred between 1985 and 1988 and 2002 and 2007, with the assailant dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” because of what was believed to be a 13-year break in the killings.
The former city sanitation worker and garage attendant was convicted of killing:
— Debra Jackson, 29, found dead from three gunshot wounds to the chest in an alley on Aug. 10, 1985;
— Henrietta Wright, a 34-year-old mother of five who was shot twice in the chest and found in an alley with a cloth gag stuffed in her mouth on Aug. 12, 1986;
— Barbara Ware, 23, shot once in the chest and found under a pile of debris and garbage in an alley on Jan. 10, 1987;
— Bernita Sparks, 26, shot once in the chest and found in a trash bin with her shirt and pants unbuttoned on April 16, 1987;
— Mary Lowe, 26, shot in the chest and found in an alley with her pants unzipped behind a large shrub on Nov. 1, 1987;
— Lachrica Jefferson, 22, found dead from two gunshot wounds to the chest — with a napkin over her face with the handwritten word “AIDS” on it — in an alley on Jan. 30, 1988;
— Alicia Alexander, 18, killed by a gunshot wound to the chest and found naked under a blue foam mattress in an alley on Sept. 11, 1988;
— Princess Berthomieux, 15, strangled and discovered naked and hidden in shrubbery in an alley in Inglewood on March 9, 2002;
— Valerie McCorvey, 35, strangled and found dead with her clothes pulled down at the entrance to a locked alley on July 11, 2003; and
— Janecia Peters, 25, shot in the back and found naked inside a sealed plastic trash bag in a trash bin in an alley on Jan. 1, 2007.
—City News Service
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