Lonnie David Franklin Jr., a notorious serial killer who was dubbed the “Grim Sleeper,” was sentenced Monday to death by a Los Angeles jury. A jury in May found the serial killer guilty of taking the lives of 10 women between 1985 and 2007. According to the Los Angeles Times, authorities believe he is responsible for many more murders. While the court ruled in favor of the death sentence, Franklin’s lawyers argued that he should spend the rest of his life in prison rather than face execution. However, jurors rejected the defense team’s arguments.
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Franklin Jr., 63, was convicted on May 5 of multiple counts of murder and attempted murder, with a unanimous verdict after three months of trial in a court in Los Angeles. The convicted killer was waiting to know if he would be put on death row or receive life imprisonment. The same jury that convicted him determined the sentence after deliberating five hours over two days, according to local news portal ABC 7.
This is the fourth death sentence issued in California so far this year, according to information from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, after rulings against Michael Brown (March), Ka Pasasouk (February), and Joseph Mercado (January).
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Authorities say Franklin Jr. committed the first murders between 1985 and 1988, as was demonstrated by the prosecution during the trial, then suddenly took a hiatus from killing for 13 years, a pause that earned him the nickname “Grim Sleeper.” Between 2002 and 2007, he is said to have been responsible for at least three more murders.
Although he was convicted for the murders of 10 women, investigators suspect his total body count is much higher. Franklin Jr., a former sanitation worker, is believed to be responsible for at least 25 murders, including 11 that occurred during the time frame that police initially believed was a “dormant” period for him.
International Business Times wrote that the additional murders were connected to Franklin Jr. after he was charged with the other homicides, but prosecutors were worried that adding on to the charges would only delay his conviction and would not increase the potential penalty against him. The other victims’ families backed the decision not to prosecute the other cases.
The nude bodies of the women were often dumped naked on roadsides or among trash in humiliating fashion. The victims were all initially listed as Jane Does, leaving the killings unconnected for decades, the report states. The “Grim Sleeper” sought out his victims (black women) in South Los Angeles, Inglewood, and several areas within the LA County.
Franklin Jr. was arrested in July 2010 after a police operation that succeeded in linking his DNA with that of genetic material that was found in multiple crime scenes. The former prosecutor of Los Angeles, Steve Cooley, said that the technique used to compare the DNA samples was used for the first time in this case successfully and set a precedent in criminal investigations. He was also found guilty of one count of attempted murder in connection with an attack on another woman, Enietra Washington. Washington was apparently the only woman to survive.
It was an emotional scene outside the courtroom as relatives of Franklin’s victims learned the man responsible for killing their loved ones will be put to death. Family members of victims hugged prosecutors and wiped away tears moments after the verdict was announced. Speaking with reporters, Porter Alexander Jr, the father of one of the victims, shared the following words.
“We got what we came to get,” he said. “I’m just glad it’s over and that he’ll never get out to hurt anyone else. Justice was served.”
[Photo by Pool/Getty Images]