Grim Sleeper Serial Killer Lonnie Franklin Sentenced to Death
On Wednesday, a Los Angeles judge sentenced Grim Sleeper serial killer Lonnie Franklin Jr. to death for the murders of 10 women during a 23-year killing spree.
“It is obvious you have a deep-seeded hatred for women that started long ago,” said Los Angeles superior court judge Kathleen Kennedy when she imposed the sentence of death. “Why? I don’t know.”
A bespectacled Franklin, wearing orange jail scrubs, stared straight ahead and showed no emotion when the judge handed down the sentence. The audience, filled with victims’ family members, cheered and clapped when Franklin was soon escorted out of the courtroom.
In May, jurors found Franklin guilty of the first-degree murders of Debra Jackson, Henrietta Wright, Mary Lowe, Bernita Sparks, Barbara Ware, Lachrica Jefferson, Monique Alexander, Princess Berthomieux, Valerie McCorvey and Janecia Peters. He was also found guilty of the attempted murder of Enietra Washington, who testified Franklin shot her, sexually assaulted her, and took a Polaroid picture of her before pushing her out of his car 27 years ago.
In June, the same jury recommended that Franklin, a 63-year-old married father of two and former LAPD mechanic and city sanitation worker, should be put to death.
The Wednesday sentence came at the end of hours of heartbreaking testimony where 17 family members of victims and surviving victims spoke about the impact Franklin has had on their lives.
“I am one of your living victims,” Washington told Franklin. “I really think you are truly a piece of evil. You are right up there with Manson. You are Satan’s representative.”
“I just want to know why?” asked Laura Moore, who was shot six times by Franklin in 1984. “I didn’t do anything to him. I didn’t know him. I know a lot of people who knew him. None of the ladies liked him.”
Lachrica Jefferson’s sister Romy Lampkin told Franklin how many lives he destroyed.
“You took my only sibling from me,” she said. “You destroyed a lot of lives and now today is your fear day. You sit there with a blank face with no remorse and today is our day.”
“Thank God for this day,” said Monique Alexander’s mother Mary before she turned to Franklin and asked him to look at her.
“I would like to know why?,” she asked Franklin. “I know she didn’t do anything to hurt you. I know that.”
Franklin slowly looked towards her and nodded.
“I know I am suppose to forgive and love everyone,” Alexander continued. “I have forgiven you but it is hard. You did so much wrong, not just to my daughter, but to all of the others.”
“I didn’t do it,” Franklin mumbled to Alexander before he turned back towards the judge.
Franklin’s victims were all young, vulnerable black women who lived in South Los Angeles and struggled with drug addiction. Their naked or partially clothed bodies were dumped in filthy neighborhood alleyways, left to rot under garbage and debris. They were shot at close range with a .25-caliber pistol, or strangled, or both. Many of them had their killer’s saliva left on their breasts. Several of the women were missing their underwear and all of them were found with no identification.
They all appeared to be “body dumps.”
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During the penalty phase of the trial, prosecutors introduced evidence linking Franklin to four additional murders, including the slaying of Sharon Dismuke, who was found shot to death in the filthy bathroom of an abandoned gas station in 1984. Police found the gun that was used to kill her in Franklin’s home.
Another woman, Ingrid W., testified during the penalty phase that Franklin was one of three U.S. military men who gang-raped her by knifepoint in Germany in April of 1974. Franklin was convicted and sentenced to three years and four months, but served less than a year. He was given a general discharge from the U.S. Army on July 24, 1975.
“He sought out and targeted these victims,” said Los Angeles prosecutor Beth Silverman during the trial. “They were easy prey. None of them deserved to be brutally dumped like trash as if their lives had no meaning.”
“They suffered from the same frailties and the same imperfections that all humans do, and they had the same hopes and the same dreams for their futures that we all have,” she said.
After the sentencing, victim’s family members, the police and prosecutors hugged in the hallway outside the courtroom.
“It was a long time coming,” said LAPD lead investigator Daryn Dupree. “He deserves his fate and I’m thankful the families finally have some justice.”