Attorneys are set to give their opening statements Tuesday during the trial of accused muderer Lonnie Franklin Jr. — known as the notorious “Grim Sleeper” serial killer — more than 30 years after the first victims’ bodies began appearing in garbage bins and alleyways in south Los Angeles.
Franklin, 63, has been behind bars awaiting trial for nearly six years as the attorneys, expert witnesses and victims’ family members argued back and forth over dates and the amount of time needed to examine decades-old evidence from multiple cases, according to the Los Angeles Times. Thus far, Franklin has pleaded “not guilty” to killing nine women and a 15-year-old girl during a series of murders spanning 1985 to 2007, with a 15-year gap between 1988 and 2002 that earned him the nickname of the “Grim Sleeper.” The trial is expected to last four months and could conclude with the death penalty for Franklin.
All of the victims in question, except for the 15-year-old, were women between the ages of 18-35 who were found shot or strangled with their bodies dumped in the vicinity of Franklin’s home in south Los Angeles, according to the Associated Press. Most of the bodies showed signs of sexual contact as well, and the murders occurred during a time when south Los Angeles was especially marred by extreme violence, poverty, drug addiction and prostitution, according to the Washington Post. Many of the killer’s victims had worked as prostitutes, and the Grim Sleeper was one of at least three serial killers who terrorized Los Angeles during a crack cocaine epidemic that occurred over that time period.
Porter Alexander, 75, was 48 years old when his 18-year-old daughter fell victim to the “Grim Sleeper” murder spree.
“The day of reckoning is here,” Alexander said, according to the Associated Press. “You can’t help but be excited that you lived to see an end to this madness. It’s been a long road, and I’m glad I’ll physically be able to be there.”
Franklin was arrested in July 2010 after police succeeded in linking his DNA, which was gathered from dishes and utensils at a pizza parlor, to DNA collected at roughly a dozen crime scenes, according to the AP.
Many of the victims’ family members have expressed their outrage and frustration with the length of time it has taken for Franklin to stand trial for the slayings.
“I just wanted to know, when will justice be served for our families?” said Sherry Ware Costa, the aunt of victim Barbara Ware, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“I thought I forgave you, but I was wrong,” said the Grim Sleeper’s only known survivor, Enietra Washington. “You stole so many people’s lives.”
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