The release last week of 160 photographs taken from the home of suspected Grim Sleeper Lonnie David Franklin Jr. was followed by complaints by his attorney that the Los Angeles Police Department failed to observe “due diligence” by not carefully screening the pictures before submitting them to the public.

The serial killer, who terrorized Los Angeles over the past two decades, got his moniker because of the 14-year long break authorities assumed he took between the killings from 1988 to 2002. Now, with the release of these photos, there are concerns that he may well have continued the grisly practice without rest or hiatus. This means the murderer operated for more then a decade while the police, already under fire from the community for not making a concerted effort to stop the slaughter of women of color, were oblivious.

Franklin was arrested on July 8, and after obtaining a warrant to search his house on 81st Street near Western Avenue, law enforcement and crime technicians recovered the images, along with videos, several handguns of the same .25 caliber used to dispatch many of the victims, and scores of personal effects, including jewelry that police speculate may have belonged to the victims.

Since the photos were made public, police switchboards have been swamped with phone calls along with millions of hits on the LAPD website. Officials say that 20 of the women depicted have been identified.

Franklin is currently represented by attorney Louisa Pensanti, who took on the case pro bono (shortened from the Latin pro bono publico, referring to professional work done for free, or the public good, especially by those in the legal profession). In a phone interview with Our Weekly, she repudiated police statements by declaring that 18 of the individuals in the snapshots were relatives of Franklin. By not taking time to shift through the pictures and eliminate known associates of the defendant before releasing them to the public, police jeopardized Franklin’s chance for a fair trail, she said. Going further, she pointed out that the trial is still in its preliminary stages, and since the tedium of selecting a jury has yet to begin, exposing the photos in such a manner jeopardizes her client’s constitutional guarantee of the presumption of innocence by infecting the viewpoint of potential jury candidates, and, in essence threatens his right to a fair trail.

Meanwhile, legal analysts are awaiting this, a potentially landmark case in the use of familial DNA testing, with the resulting verdict likely to set a judicial precedent. Franklin was apprehended when DNA samples collected from a pizza crust and other discarded items he’d left in an Orange County restaurant matched those taken from his son, a convicted felon in a separate case, which in turn fit the DNA from the crime scene.

Having the suspect’s DNA, authorities began a genetic search of the California Offender Database.

The DNA search matched Franklin’s son’s DNA. Since the son was incarcerated and not a suspect, suspicion pointed to the father because the Y chromosone can only be passed from father to son.

Civil-liberties groups and legal scholars have argued that adopting such a precedent will impede ethical and privacy issues, and likely target minority groups, especially African Americans who already make up a disproportionate percentage of the U.S. prison population (“BTK” serial killer Dennis Rader, a Caucasian, was apprehended when DNA from a crime scene matched that of a Pap smear taken from his daughter while she was a coed at Kansas State University).

The victim photographs may be viewed by accessing the police website at www.lapdonline.org/; or at Our Weekly’s website at www.ourweekly.com/features/update-new-grim-sleeper-serial-killer-possibl….