Wed, Jun 08, 2016 - Page 7 News List

Jury returns death sentence for ‘Grim Sleeper’

AP, LOS ANGELES

A serial killer known as the “Grim Sleeper” should be sentenced to death for murdering nine women and a teenage girl over more than two decades in southern Los Angeles, a jury decided on Monday.

Lonnie Franklin Jr stared straight ahead and showed no emotion as a court clerk read 10 death penalty verdicts.

Family members of the victims cried as the verdicts were read.

One rocked back and forth, while another whispered to himself: “Thank you.”

“We got what we came to get, a just verdict,” said Porter Alexander, the father of 18-year-old victim Alicia Alexander. “I am glad I lived to see it. It is a long time coming.”

The 63-year-old Franklin, a former city trash collector and garage attendant for Los Angeles Police Department, was convicted of 10 counts of first-degree murder last month for crimes dating back more than 30 years.

A prosecutor had asked jurors to show Franklin the same compassion he showed his victims and give him the “ultimate penalty.”

An emotional defense lawyer asked jurors to sentence him to life without parole to hasten the healing process for the victims’ family members.

Franklin’s only words during the proceedings on Monday were: “Yes, your honor.”

As he walked into court, family members of the victims whispered: “Dead man walking.”

BITTERSWEET

Samara Herard, 45, the foster sister of the youngest victim, 15-year-old Princess Berthomieux, said the verdict was bittersweet.

“This closes out a chapter and you have to go on ... but I will never get my sister back,” Herard said. “She will never get a chance to grow up. She will never go to college, she will never be married... At 15 years old, it was stripped from her.”

The judge set formal sentencing for Aug. 10.

During the trial, defense lawyers questioned forensic evidence and said DNA from other men was also found on several bodies.

They suggested a “mystery man,” possibly a relative of Franklin’s, was the real killer.

On Monday, Franklin’s defense attorney slammed the amount of money prosecutors spent on the case and the costs associated with the death penalty.

“Now what happens is millions of [US] dollars will be spent on appeals, because we have no choice but to do that,” lawyer Seymour Amster said, adding that money would be better spent in the neighborhood where the killings happened.

He declined to speak about Franklin, saying the concentration should be on healing society.

Franklin is unlikely to be executed. Nearly 750 convicted killers sit on California’s death row, the largest in the nation.

However, because of legal challenges, no one has been executed in more than a decade and only 13 have been put to death since 1978. Far more have died of natural causes or suicide.

Most of Franklin’s slayings fit a similar pattern. Women were either fatally shot, choked — or both — their bodies dumped in alleys and trash bins.

Police did not connect the crimes to a serial killer for years, and victims’ families and community residents complained the killings were not thoroughly investigated because the victims were poor and black, and some were prostitutes who had been using cocaine.

GENETIC EVIDENCE

Franklin came under suspicion after a task force began re-examining the cold cases following the final killing in 2007 and DNA from his son showed similarities to genetic evidence found on some of the victims.

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