'Grim Sleeper' serial killer sentenced to death for Los Angeles murders
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (FOX 11 / CNS) - The man dubbed the "Grim Sleeper'' serial killer was sentenced to death Wednesday for the killings of nine women and a teenage girl, primarily in the South Los Angeles area.
Lonnie David Franklin Jr., 63, was convicted May 5 of 10 counts of first- degree murder for the killings of nine women and a 15-year-old girl between 1985 and 2007. In June, jurors recommended that Franklin receive the death penalty.
Before handing down the sentence, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy rejected a motion for a new trial for Franklin, and also rejected a motion to reduce the jury's recommendation of death to life in prison without parole.
Kennedy told victims' relatives and friends in the courtroom that the sentencing likely wouldn't give them "closure.''
"Your loved one, your daughter, your sister, your mother, your friend is still gone,'' she said. "Hopefully there is some measure of justice you'll feel, but closure isn't what this trial was about.''
The judge noted that "there was nothing really presented in mitigation by the defense,'' and the aggravating circumstances in the case warranted the death penalty.
Franklin showed little reaction during the hearing, staring straight ahead as victims' relatives made statements to the court.
In addition to the murders, jurors also found Franklin guilty of the attempted murder of Enietra Washington, who survived being shot in the chest and pushed out of a moving vehicle in November 1988.
During the penalty phase of the trial, the prosecution presented evidence that it contends links Franklin to four other killings for which he was not charged.
In a court filing this week, Franklin's attorneys argued that presenting such evidence unfairly pushed jurors toward recommending death, saying that any "reasonable juror would feel sympathy'' for the victims' family members "with only one course of action available to the jury to acknowledge their pain.''
"That was a finding that the death penalty was the proper sentence,'' the attorneys said in their filing.
In their court filing, Deputy District Attorneys Beth Silverman and Marguerite Rizzo countered that "a death sentence is clearly warranted based on the evidence and the law."
"The defendant is a serial killer who intentionally targeted victims who were easy to exploit,'' the prosecutors wrote. "The staggering number of murders in this case and the pattern displayed across these violent crimes highlight the defendant's goal-directed behavior. He routinely manipulated others to achieve his goal: doing evil.''
The prosecutors -- who wrote that Franklin has shown "absolutely no remorse'' -- called him "completely irredeemable'' and a "psychopathic, sadistic serial killer who takes joy in inflicting pain on women and killing them.''
The killings for which Franklin was convicted occurred between 1985 and 1988 and 2002 and 2007. The assailant, who was arrested in July 2010, was dubbed the "Grim Sleeper'' because of what was believed to be a 13-year break in the murders. The uncharged killings occurred in 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2005.
Franklin was convicted of killing:
-- Debra Jackson, a 29-year-old mother of two who was found dead from three gunshot wounds to the chest in an alley in South Los Angeles 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 in South Los Angeles on Aug. 12, 1986;
-- Barbara Ware, 23, shot once in the chest and found under a pile of debris and garbage in an alley in South Los Angeles on Jan. 10, 1987;
-- Bernita Sparks, 26, shot once in the chest and found in a trash bin with her shirt and pants unbuttoned in Los Angeles on April 16, 1987;
-- Mary Lowe, 26, shot once in the chest and found in an alley with her pants unzipped behind a large shrub in South Los Angeles 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 in South Los Angeles 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 in South Los Angeles 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, the 35-year-old mother of one, strangled and found dead with her clothes pulled down at the entrance to a locked alley in South Los Angeles 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 in South Los Angeles on Jan. 1, 2007.
Outside court after jurors recommended that Franklin be sentenced to death, the father of one of the victims said, "We got what we came to get.''
"We got a just verdict,'' said Alicia Alexander's father, Porter Alexander Jr., who was a fixture during the court proceedings. "It was a long time coming, but all I asked for was the good lord to give me strength enough to make it every day.''
When asked if Franklin was Los Angeles' most prolific killer, Silverman told reporters, "I don't know. He's certainly one of them.''
Franklin's lead attorney, Seymour Amster, said after the verdict that "millions of dollars will be spent on appeals because we have no choice but to do that,'' telling reporters that the money could have gone to South Los Angeles schools.
He said the defense did not call any of Franklin's family members during the trial's penalty phase in an effort to try to focus on the issue of whether jurors had any lingering doubt about Franklin's culpability for the crimes.
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