A Los Angeles jury has decided that the serial killer known as the “Grim Sleeper” should face the death penalty for murdering nine women and a teenage girl in a 23-year killing spree, the Associated Press reports.
Lonnie Franklin Jr., a 63-year-old former city trash collector and garage attendant for the city’s Police Department, was convicted last month on 10 counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Debra Jackson, Henrietta Wright, Mary Lowe, Bernita Sparks, Barbara Ware, Lachrica Jefferson, Monique Alexander, Princess Berthomieux, Valerie McCorvey and Janecia Peters.
On Monday, family members cried as the determinations were handed down, the newswire notes.
One prosecutor had asked jurors to show Franklin the same mercy he showed his victims and give him the “ultimate penalty.” A defense lawyer urged jurors to give Franklin life without parole. However, the jury ended up deciding on the death penalty on all 10 counts. According to AP, the formal sentencing will be held Aug. 10.
The victims were either fatally shot, choked or both before their bodies were dumped in alleys and trash bins in the area where Franklin lived. According to AP, the killings were not connected for years, with family members of the victims and residents accusing authorities of not thoroughly investigating the case because the victims were poor and black. Some of the victims were prostitutes and addicts, AP notes.
Franklin finally became a suspect after investigators, re-examining the case after the final murder in 2007, found that DNA from Franklin’s son showed similarities to genetic evidence found on some of the women.
Although there was an apparent gap in murders between 1988 and 2002, earning Franklin the nickname “Grim Sleeper,” authorities now say they don’t think he ever stopped his murder spree.
AP notes that Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman brought forward evidence of four other killings, including one that linked Franklin to a 2000 murder. There was also evidence of a 1984 killing, a year before the first murder he was convicted of. Prosecutors, however, opted not to charge Franklin in the additional killings because doing so would have delayed the case that had already taken more than five years to come to trial.
Authorities were able to link the 1984 killing of Sharon Dismuke to the 2007 murder of Janecia Peters, who is believed to be the final killing. The same gun was used to shoot both women, and the weapon was found in Franklin’s garage after he was arrested in 2010.
One of Franklin’s victims survived her ordeal and was able to point him out in court.
Enietra Washington said that she got a lift from Franklin in his car before he shot her in the chest while she was in the passenger seat. Washington said that as she was losing consciousness, Franklin sexually assaulted her. She also remembered seeing the flash from a camera.
Investigators found a photo of Washington bleeding and partially naked behind a wall in Franklin’s garage. Photos of other victims were also found in the home.
“That’s the person who shot me,” Washington said, pointing Franklin out in court nearly 30 years after she was left to die.
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