LOS ANGELES, Calif.–An alleged serial killer dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” and charged with murdering 10 women appeared in court today, but his trial could still be months away.
During today’s pretrial hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy voiced frustration with defense attorney Seymour Amster, who represents accused killer Lonnie David Franklin Jr.
Amster made a request to the prosecution for lab files and other information related to ballistics evidence, which will delay long-awaited analysis of that evidence by defense experts.
“If the time and energy had been spent trying to comply with my order instead of overturning (it),” Kennedy said, analysis of DNA and ballistics evidence might already be under way.
Amster bristled at the judge’s comment, saying, “we respectfully disagree.”
The attorney said he was only acting in good faith to represent his client’s interests, noting that Franklin faces the death penalty.
“If the court feels we are not doing something in good faith … the court has remedies,” he said, seeming to dare Kennedy to assign other counsel.
Kennedy retorted that if getting the evidence analyzed “is a task that is beyond your capabilities, perhaps you are not the right attorneys.”
Franklin–a former city sanitation worker who also worked in the Los Angeles Police Department motor pool–has been in jail since his arrest on July 7, 2010. He is charged with killing 10 women, many of them prostitutes, and dumping their remains in alleys and trash bins in and around South Los Angeles.
Some were raped before being shot to death with a small-caliber handgun.
The serial killer was dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” because of an assumed 13-year gap between killing sprees. Investigators said Franklin’s DNA matched forensic evidence from eight murders between 1985 and 1988 and another three between 2001 and 2007.
But in 2011, detectives said they believed Franklin might be linked to at least eight other missing or dead women whose photos were found in his home near 81st Street and Harvard Boulevard. At one point, investigators were reviewing 230 missing persons cases and unsolved killings for links to Franklin.
“I think we’re going to start filling in that gap,” LAPD Detective Dennis Kilcoyne said during a 2011 news conference.
A grand jury indicted Franklin on the original charges on Mar. 23, 2011.
The indictment was intended to speed the time to trial.
The judge today asked both sides to deal with the defense’s request on the ballistics evidence and return in two weeks with a timetable for DNA testing.
“We’re in this quagmire where there’s no progress being made,” Kennedy said.
“It is our intent to get the testing going,” Amster told the court, characterizing time spent as “preparation, not delay” that would ultimately save time during potential future appeals and related proceedings.
Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said later she expected Amster was “just going to drag his feet” as she accused him of doing throughout the legal process. “Any other defense attorney would have done the analysis” already, she said.