A jury began hearing opening statements at the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles, from attorneys this week in the trial of the suspected “Grim Sleeper” serial killer, who is charged with murdering nine women and a teenage girl in a crime spree stretching over more than two decades.
Lonnie David Franklin Jr., 63, is charged with killing nine women, who were mostly in their 20s, and a 15-year-old girl. Their bodies were dumped in alleys and trash bins in and around South Los Angeles, Inglewood and unincorporated county areas. Franklin is also charged with the attempted murder of another woman on Nov. 20, 1988.
The murder charges include the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against the one-time city employee in a trial that is expected to last about three to four months.
The killings occurred between 1985 and 1988, and 2002 and 2007, with the assailant dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” because of the apparent 13-year break in the killings. Franklin is accused of murdering:
—Debra Jackson, 29, on Aug. 10, 1985;
— Henrietta Wright, 35, on Aug. 12, 1986;
— Barbara Ware, 23, on Jan. 10, 1987;
— Bernita Sparks, who was in her mid-20s, on April 15, 1987;
— Mary Lowe, 26, on Nov. 1, 1987;
— Lachrica Jefferson, 22, on Jan. 30, 1988;
— Alicia Alexander, 18, on Sept. 11, 1988;
— Princess Berthomieux, 15, on March 19, 2002;
— Valerie McCorvey, 35, on July 11, 2003; and
— Janecia Peters, 25, on Jan. 1, 2007.
Franklin was identified as a suspect using familial DNA—investigators determined that his son had DNA similar to the killer, and when they subsequently got Franklin’s DNA, his genetic material allegedly matched forensic evidence from eight murders between 1985 and 1988, and three murders between 2001 and 2007.
Detectives have said since Franklin’s arrest in 2010 that they were also investigating whether he might be connected to the disappearances or deaths of eight other women whose photos were found in his home near 81st Street and Harvard Boulevard.
He has remained jailed without bail since being taken into custody.