Enietra Washington, a then 30-year-old mother of two, was walking to her friend’s house when a stranger pulled up next to her and politely offered her a ride in his orange Pinto.
She initially declined the offer, but he continued to press, at one point saying, “That’s what’s wrong with you black women. People can’t be nice to you.”
She changed her mind because she felt sorry for the man she described as short, in his early 30s, and dressed neatly in khakis and a button-up shirt.
“I guess I appeared stand-offish and when he said it, I thought he was being nice and I felt sorry for him,” she said. “I thought maybe I came off rough and I said OK you can take me to the house,” Washington said.
That decision would end up haunting Washington for more than two decades. In a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Thursday, the now 57-year-old nurse’s assistant came face to face with alleged Grim Sleeper serial killing suspect Lonnie Franklin Jr.. Washington alleges Franklin shot her, sexually assaulted her, and took a Polaroid picture of her before pushing her out of his car 27 years ago.
In court, prosecutor Beth Silverman told Washington to look at the now 63-year-old Franklin, and asked, how certain she was that he shot her.
“100 percent,” she replied.
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Franklin is accused of Washington’s attempted murder and the murders of 10 other women found dead in South Los Angeles between 1984 and 2007.
Most of Franklin’s alleged victims were shot with a .25-caliber pistol while others were strangled. Their bodies were discovered in Dumpsters and alleyways along Western Avenue in South Los Angeles, an area known for its cheap motels, liquor stores, gambling parlors, auto salvage yards and storefront churches.
He has pleaded not guilty.
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Washington: ‘I Kept Wanting to Know Why He Shot Me’
Washington testified that as they wound through Los Angeles streets on the night of November 19, 1988, the man told her he needed to make a quick stop at his uncle’s house to pick up money.
They ended up on a side street, where he allegedly parked at a house near an apartment building and auto shop. He allegedly got out, walked up to the house, briefly talked to someone at the front door and returned about 10 minutes later.
Once he returned, she testified, he allegedly started acting strange. He accused her of “dogging him” and called her another woman’s name. “I thought he said ‘Brenda’ and I was like, ‘That is not my name,’ ” she testified.
Then, she said, everything went “eerily quiet” and she realized she had been shot in the chest.
Washington said she began to struggle with the man and begged him to let her go but he refused.
“I kept wanting to know why he shot me,” she testified. “I said, ‘You need to take me to the hospital.’ He said he can’t do that. I said, ‘If I die I am going to haunt you. You are going to have to take care of my kids.'”
Washington testified that she began to fade in and out of consciousness and awoke to him allegedly sexually assaulting her. She said she blacked out again but woke up to the flash of a Polaroid camera.
After the attack, Washington testified he started the Pinto and then pushed her out. She then picked herself up off the street and stumbled many blocks to the house of a friend, who called an ambulance.
No suspect was arrested in Washington’s case until 2010, when Franklin was finally caught through familial DNA testing after his 28-year-old son, Christopher, was convicted of a weapons charge in the summer of 2009 and had to give up a DNA swab. Once it was determined that Christopher was related to the alleged killer, detectives followed the elder Franklin to a pizza place in Buena Park. As Franklin finished his meal, a detective who posed as a busboy collected a fork, a plastic cup, a plate and a pizza slice left by Franklin. A few days later, DNA taken from the pizza slice came back as a match to DNA found on alleged Grim Sleeper victims.
Police later conducted a massive search of his house and allegedly found a stash of photos, including a Polaroid of a bloodied Washington wearing the same beige top she had on on the night of her attack.