Jury Votes Death Penalty for L.A.’s ‘Grim Sleeper’

Los Angeles jurors voted that a serial killer known as the “Grim Sleeper” should be sentenced to death for a series of murders he committed over the course of more than 20 years.

Lonnie Franklin Jr., a former trash collector was convicted last month on 10 counts of the first degree murders of nine women and a teenage girl. The jury called for capital punishment on each of the counts and the judge scheduled his sentencing for Aug. 10.

Diana Ware, whose daughter Barbara was one of Franklin’s victims, told the Los Angeles Times she had been attending the trial for years waiting to see if he would be punished..

“I’m just glad it’s over and that he’ll never get out to hurt anyone else,” she said. “Justice was served.”

Between 1985 and 2007, prosecutors said Franklin killed his victim and often dumped their naked bodies on roadsides or in trash heaps.

Most of the slayings fit a similar pattern. Women were either fatally shot, choked — or both — and their partly clad or naked bodies were dumped in alleys and trash bins in the impoverished area where Franklin lived.

Police didn’t connect the crimes to a serial killer for years and victims’ family members and community residents complained the killings weren’t thoroughly investigated because the victims were poor and black, and some were prostitutes who had been using cocaine.

Franklin came under suspicion after a task force began re-examining the cold cases following the final killing in 2007 and DNA from his son showed similarities to genetic evidence found on some of the victims.

A detective posing as a busboy at a pizza parlor later collected utensils and crusts from Franklin while he was attending a birthday party. Lab results connected him to evidence found on several discarded bodies.


In making her final argument to jurors L.A. County Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman described the crimes Franklin of which was convicted.

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

But Franklin’s defense attorney Dale Atherton tried to convince the jury to show some mercy. His execution would “delay the healing process” for the families.

Franklin himself remained stoic in court when the jury reached its decision. Family members wept as the names of his victims were read.