Grim Sleeper: California Serial Killer Lonnie Franklin Jr. Sentenced To Death

A Los Angeles County jury recommended Monday that the California serial killer, dubbed the “Grim Sleeper,” should be put to death for the grizzly murders of at least nine women and one teenage girl from 1985 to 2007.

Last month, Lonnie Franklin Jr, 63, a former mechanic and sanitation worker, was found guilty of the murders after an 11-week trial. In 2010, Franklin was connected to his victims through ballistics and DNA evidence that wasn’t available when the initial murders took place in the 1980’s — Franklin’s saliva was found on most of the victims, which helped build the case against him. During the penalty phase, the investigators were able to connect him to an additional five murders, but chose not to stall the trial any further since he was already facing the death penalty.

Along with the 10 counts of first-degree murder, the “Grim Sleeper” was also charged with one count of attempted murder in the case of a woman who survived a 1988 attack — the victim’s testimony helped to convict Franklin of the murders. Investigators believe the “Grim Sleeper” could be responsible for as many as 25 deaths in all.

According to CNN, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said the jury, comprised of seven women and five men, deliberated for nearly eight hours before handing over their decision. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy will have the final say in Franklin’s sentence, and will meet with him on August 10.

The public dubbed Franklin the “Grim Sleeper” due to a 13-year gap between the murders, USA Today reports. During her closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told the courtroom about the heinous killings, and described the demeaning way they were carried out. Most of the women were drug addicts and prostitutes, and were found with cocaine in their systems. After strangling, or shooting, his victims, Franklin would then dump their bodies along abandoned roadsides or in the trash.

“They were so vicious, they were so calculated, and they were so demeaning,” Silverman said. “The way these women ended up, half of them naked… all of them in filthy alleys.”

The victims are listed in the order in which they died: Debra Jackson, 29; Henrietta Wright, 35; Barbara Ware, 23; Bernita Sparks, 25; Mary Lowe, 26; Lachrica Jefferson, 22; Alicia Alexander; Princess Berthomieux; Valerie McCorvey, 35; and Janecia Peters, 25. According to the Los Angeles Times, Berthomieux was strangled, while the rest of the victims died from gunshot wounds.

The additional victims were identified as Georgia Mae Thomas, 43; Inez Warren, 28; Rolena Morris, 31; Sharon Dismuke, 21; and Ayellah Marshall, 18. Morris disappeared in 2005 and Marshall vanished in 2006 — their bodies were never recovered. Inside the “Grim Sleeper’s” garage refrigerator, or his “trophy case,” was Marshall’s Hawthorne High School ID card and a photograph of Morris. Morris’ driver’s license was also found in his home.

In addition, the investigators found more than “1,000 photos and hundreds of hours of video in Franklin’s house, showing women, many of them nude and in sexually graphic poses, some seemingly unconscious.”

Do you agree with the jury’s decision to sentence the “Grim Sleeper” to the death penalty? Leave your comments below.

[Photo via AP Photo/Nick Ut, File]