'Grim Sleeper' sentenced to death
LOS ANGELES, California (AP):
A serial killer known as the 'Grim Sleeper' was sentenced to death yesterday for the murders of nine women and a teenage girl which went unsolved for years as the body count grew in a poor section of Los Angeles haunted by the scourge of crack cocaine.
Lonnie Franklin Jr was sentenced in Los Angeles County Superior Court after emotional family members of his victims spoke about the pain they had endured for decades.
"I can't think of anyone I've encountered in all my years in the criminal justice system that has committed the monstrous crimes that you have," Judge Kathleen Kennedy told Franklin.
The killings occurred over more than two decades during the crack epidemic, and community members complained that police did not seriously investigate because the victims were black and poor and many were drug users and prostitutes.
Franklin, 63, a former trash collector, army man and one-time garage attendant for Los Angeles police, denied any role in the killings to investigators but did not utter a word in his defence during his lengthy trial.
Prosecutors connected him to the crimes through DNA, ballistics, photos and the words of the sole known survivor, who managed to get away after being shot. A Polaroid photo of her partly nude and bleeding from her wound was found in Franklin's garage after his arrest.
Nearly three decades after the attack, the survivor, Enietra Washington, pointed out her assailant in court, saying, "That's the person who shot me."
Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said Franklin's motive was "doing evil", and his "degrading, calculated and brutal" crimes had destroyed many lives.
"This defendant is completely irredeemable," Silverman wrote in her sentencing brief. "He is a psychopathic, sadistic serial killer who takes joy in inflicting pain on women and killing them."
Franklin's attorneys had suggested that a mystery man was the real killer and asked jurors to spare the defendant's life.
Defence lawyer Seymour Amster said in court filings that the death verdict should be set aside because prosecutors introduced evidence that Franklin killed four other women, though he was never charged with those crimes.
Franklin sat upright and attentive throughout the trial, rarely speaking with his lawyers and showing no emotion as the verdicts were read. None of his family showed up in court.
He was convicted of killing seven women between 1985 and 1988 and the 15-year-old girl and two women between 2002 and 2007. Most of the women were fatally shot at close range, though two were strangled and two were shot and choked.