The long-awaited murder trial of the alleged Grim Sleeper serial killer finally commenced in a Los Angeles courtroom on Tuesday after more than three decades since the death of the first victim in 1985.
The defendant, whose real name is Lonnie David Franklin Jr., is facing multiple murder charges for the deaths of at least nine women and the attempted murder one more in South Los Angeles between the years 1985 and 2007. The victims’ ages ranged from 15 to 35 years old, and were predominantly young African American women who were involved in prostitution and the use of crack cocaine.
— Independent US (@IndyUSA) February 17, 2016
In July of 2010, then-California Attorney General Jerry Brown approved a familial DNA procedure that allowed police to link DNA found the crime scene to convicted criminals on the police database. The connection was made through a partial match of the DNA recovered from a Grim Sleeper crime scene with the suspect’s son, Christopher Franklin, who had a police record for drugs and firearms possession in 2008. After obtaining Lonnie’s DNA by following him in an undercover operation, they were able to facilitate his arrest.
Why Did It Take More Than 20 Years to Arrest the ‘Grim Sleeper’ Serial Killer? http://t.co/0m0Soy7kWO
— Modern Notion (@ModernNotion) June 16, 2015
Authorities also found photos and videos of 180 women after searching Franklin Jr.’s home. The graphic images were published in the hopes of getting more information about the murders and to find out if any of the victims actually survived. One woman named Enietra Washington came forward and claimed that the Grim Sleeper raped her before shooting her in the chest with a .25 caliber pistol.
— Nancy Grace (@NancyGraceHLN) February 16, 2016
Lonnie Franklin Jr. used to work as a sanitation worker and backyard mechanic during the period of the murders. He earned the nickname Grim Sleeper because the killings for which he is charged took place more than a decade apart.
Pleading not guilty to all of the charges, the Grim Sleeper – who is now 63 years old – is expected to go on trial in front of a jury for two to three months, according to Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman. The prosecution is aiming for the death penalty while the defense promises an aggressive argument backed by testimonies from the defendant’s friends and neighbors.