One of the few times the Death Penalty is justified in my view…
A Los Angeles County jury decided Monday that the man known as the “Grim Sleeper” serial killer should be put to death, closing an important legal chapter in the grisly slayings of at least nine women and one teenage girl that terrorized South L.A. for more than two decades.
The verdict against Lonnie David Franklin Jr., a 63-year-old former sanitation worker, drew muted sighs of relief in the downtown courtroom from victims’ relatives who were passing tissues back and forth, letting slight sobs go as each victim’s name was read aloud. Franklin, wearing a yellow dress shirt and neck tie that he put on as he entered the courtroom, appeared to remain stoic as he has the entire trial.
He was convicted last month of 10 murders between 1985 and 2007 but authorities believe he is responsible for more. Jurors rejected defense arguments that he should spend the rest of his life in prison rather than face execution.
The victims’ bodies were often dumped naked on roadsides or among trash in humiliating fashion, and the victims were all initially listed as Jane Does, leaving the killings unconnected for decades.
During the penalty phase of the trial, prosecutors connected Franklin to an additional five killings. The district attorney’s office decided not to charge Franklin with those crimes because he was already facing the death penalty and prosecutors did not want to further stall a trial that had already been beset by delays.
In all, investigators think Franklin may have killed as many as 25 women during the years he spent stalking one of the city’s most vulnerable populations.
In her closing argument to the jury, Deputy Dist. Atty. Beth Silverman gave a blistering recounting of each victim’s final moments, speaking with a palpable disdain for Franklin. The defendant, seated underneath a projector that displayed pictures of his victims’ battered and bloody bodies, never looked up.
“They were so vicious, they were so calculated, and they were so demeaning,” Silverman said of the killings. “The way that these women ended up, half of them naked … all of them in filthy alleys.”
Defense attorney Dale Atherton countered by appealing to the jury’s conscience in a plea for mercy. Executing Franklin, he said, would only “delay the healing process” for the victims’ families.
“Every time they think of the approaching execution date, it will be like opening the wounds again,” he said.