"There's not sufficient evidence to show that Lonnie Franklin did that," Franklin's attorney told the jury

By Christine Pelisek
Updated May 04, 2016 01:50 PM
Credit: AP Pool/Nick Ut,Pool

The attorney for alleged ‘Grim Sleeper’ serial killer Lonnie Franklin said in his closing arguments Tuesday that a “mystery man” was the real culprit behind the murders of 10 women and the attempted murder of another in South Los Angeles.

“Each and every murder in this case could have been done by a mystery man with a mystery gun with mystery DNA,” attorney Seymour Amster told jurors during closing arguments.

Amster portrayed the mystery man as an unnamed relative, or someone who referred to Franklin – who is accused in a killing spree spanning 1984 to 2007 – as his “uncle.” He implied the mystery man may have been jealous of Franklin’s sexual prowess and killed the women out of jealousy.

“There’s not sufficient evidence to show that Lonnie Franklin did that,” he told the jury.

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Franklin, a 63-year-old married father of two and former LAPD mechanic and city sanitation worker, faces the death penalty if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty.

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.

During her rebuttal, prosecutor Beth Silverman accused Amster of attempting to deceive the jury.

“You have to base your decision on the evidence,” she said. “The theory of the defense is basically the equivalent of the skies opening up, a space ship descending and murdering all these women.”

What You Need to Know About ‘the Grim Sleeper’

Silverman painted Franklin as an opportunistic killer who hunted for his alleged victims in the same area in which he lived and worked. The majority of his alleged victims were found within a few miles of where Franklin lived.

“He is a serial killer who was basically hiding in plain sight,” Silverman said. “He blended in. All evidence points to one person as the killer.”

She added, “It is clear the defendant got pleasure from killing these young women because that’s how they all ended up. He definitely wanted to degrade these women by dumping their bodies like trash. He got off on that too and that is why he did it over and over. It gave him gratification.”

The case wrapped up yesterday after almost three months of testimony. Jurors began deliberating Wednesday morning.