Judge sets June trial date in 'Grim Sleeper' serial killings

 
By BRIAN MELLEY
Posted2/6/2015 10:06 PM
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  • Lonnie Franklin Jr., who has been charged with 10 counts of murder in what have been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killings that spanned two decades, appears at a court hearing at Los Angeles Superior, on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015. Franklin is scheduled to go on trial at the end of June after anguished family members of the victims told a judge Friday they were tired of years of delay. The 62-year-old is accused of shooting eight of the victims and strangling two of them from 1985 to 2007, the brunt of the crimes during a period when crack cocaine plagued parts of Los Angeles. Police arrested Franklin in July 2010 after his DNA was connected to more than a dozen crime scenes.

    Lonnie Franklin Jr., who has been charged with 10 counts of murder in what have been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killings that spanned two decades, appears at a court hearing at Los Angeles Superior, on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015. Franklin is scheduled to go on trial at the end of June after anguished family members of the victims told a judge Friday they were tired of years of delay. The 62-year-old is accused of shooting eight of the victims and strangling two of them from 1985 to 2007, the brunt of the crimes during a period when crack cocaine plagued parts of Los Angeles. Police arrested Franklin in July 2010 after his DNA was connected to more than a dozen crime scenes. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this July 8, 2010, file photo, Family members of victim Alicia Monique Alexander: Sherry Alexander, right, and husband Darin Alexander, left, react during a news conference to announce the arrest of a suspect in the "Grim Sleeper" serial killings downtown Los Angeles. Relatives of victims will urge a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, to set a trial date for  Franklin, who is charged with 10 counts of murder, and has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Prosecutors are citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved victim's bill of right, to argue that the right to a speedy trial, guaranteed for defendants, also extends to family members of the victims.

    FILE - In this July 8, 2010, file photo, Family members of victim Alicia Monique Alexander: Sherry Alexander, right, and husband Darin Alexander, left, react during a news conference to announce the arrest of a suspect in the "Grim Sleeper" serial killings downtown Los Angeles. Relatives of victims will urge a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, to set a trial date for Franklin, who is charged with 10 counts of murder, and has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Prosecutors are citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved victim's bill of right, to argue that the right to a speedy trial, guaranteed for defendants, also extends to family members of the victims. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this July 8, 2010, file photo, Romy Lampkins, center, who used to live a few homes from the alleged "grim sleeper" murderer, Lonnie David Franklin, Jr., 57, reacts as she looks at his photo, left, after a news conference in Los Angeles. Relatives of victims will urge a Superior Court judge Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, to set a trial date for Franklin, who is charged with 10 counts of murder, and has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Prosecutors are citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved victim's bill of right, to argue that the right to a speedy trial, guaranteed for defendants, also extends to family members of the victims.

    FILE - In this July 8, 2010, file photo, Romy Lampkins, center, who used to live a few homes from the alleged "grim sleeper" murderer, Lonnie David Franklin, Jr., 57, reacts as she looks at his photo, left, after a news conference in Los Angeles. Relatives of victims will urge a Superior Court judge Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, to set a trial date for Franklin, who is charged with 10 counts of murder, and has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Prosecutors are citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved victim's bill of right, to argue that the right to a speedy trial, guaranteed for defendants, also extends to family members of the victims. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2010, file photo, Photographs found in the possession of Lonnie David Franklin Jr. are shown before a news conference in Los Angeles. Relatives of victims will urge a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, to set a trial date for Franklin, who is charged with 10 counts of murder, and has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Prosecutors are citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved victim's bill of right, to argue that the right to a speedy trial, guaranteed for defendants, also extends to family members of the victims.

    FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2010, file photo, Photographs found in the possession of Lonnie David Franklin Jr. are shown before a news conference in Los Angeles. Relatives of victims will urge a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, to set a trial date for Franklin, who is charged with 10 counts of murder, and has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Prosecutors are citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved victim's bill of right, to argue that the right to a speedy trial, guaranteed for defendants, also extends to family members of the victims. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2010, file photo, Community members take part in a memorial for victims of the Grim Sleeper serial killer, with photographs of 10 of the serial killer's victims displayed in front of Bethel AME Church in South Los Angeles,   the 25th anniversary of the first killing. Relatives of victims will urge a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, to set a trial date for Franklin, who is charged with 10 counts of murder, and has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Prosecutors are citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved victim's bill of right, to argue that the right to a speedy trial, guaranteed for defendants, also extends to family members of the victims.

    FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2010, file photo, Community members take part in a memorial for victims of the Grim Sleeper serial killer, with photographs of 10 of the serial killer's victims displayed in front of Bethel AME Church in South Los Angeles, the 25th anniversary of the first killing. Relatives of victims will urge a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, to set a trial date for Franklin, who is charged with 10 counts of murder, and has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Prosecutors are citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved victim's bill of right, to argue that the right to a speedy trial, guaranteed for defendants, also extends to family members of the victims. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this April 5, 2011, file photo, Los Angeles Police Officer Gregory Baek sets photos of unidentified women police believe may be linked to Lonnie Franklin Jr., the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer, during a news conference in Los Angeles. Relatives of victims will urge a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, to set a trial date for Franklin, who is charged with 10 counts of murder, and has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Prosecutors are citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved victim's bill of right, to argue that the right to a speedy trial, guaranteed for defendants, also extends to family members of the victims.

    FILE - In this April 5, 2011, file photo, Los Angeles Police Officer Gregory Baek sets photos of unidentified women police believe may be linked to Lonnie Franklin Jr., the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer, during a news conference in Los Angeles. Relatives of victims will urge a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, to set a trial date for Franklin, who is charged with 10 counts of murder, and has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Prosecutors are citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved victim's bill of right, to argue that the right to a speedy trial, guaranteed for defendants, also extends to family members of the victims. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2010, file photo, photographs found in the possession of Lonnie David Franklin Jr. are shown during a news conference in Los Angeles.  Relatives of victims will urge a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, to set a trial date for Franklin, who is charged with 10 counts of murder, and has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Prosecutors are citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved victim's bill of right, to argue that the right to a speedy trial, guaranteed for defendants, also extends to family members of the victims.

    FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2010, file photo, photographs found in the possession of Lonnie David Franklin Jr. are shown during a news conference in Los Angeles. Relatives of victims will urge a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, to set a trial date for Franklin, who is charged with 10 counts of murder, and has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Prosecutors are citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved victim's bill of right, to argue that the right to a speedy trial, guaranteed for defendants, also extends to family members of the victims. Associated Press

  • CORRECTS REFERENCE TO GRIM SLEEPER - FILE - In this April 5, 2011, file photo, Los Angeles Police Chief of Police Charlie Beck looks at photos of a murder victim, linked to Lonnie Franklin Jr., the Grim Sleeper serial killer, during a news conference in Los Angeles. Relatives of victims will urge a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, to set a trial date for Franklin, who is charged with 10 counts of murder, and has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Prosecutors are citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved victim's bill of right, to argue that the right to a speedy trial, guaranteed for defendants, also extends to family members of the victims.

    CORRECTS REFERENCE TO GRIM SLEEPER - FILE - In this April 5, 2011, file photo, Los Angeles Police Chief of Police Charlie Beck looks at photos of a murder victim, linked to Lonnie Franklin Jr., the Grim Sleeper serial killer, during a news conference in Los Angeles. Relatives of victims will urge a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, to set a trial date for Franklin, who is charged with 10 counts of murder, and has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Prosecutors are citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved victim's bill of right, to argue that the right to a speedy trial, guaranteed for defendants, also extends to family members of the victims. Associated Press

  • FILE - In this July 9, 2010, file photo, Los Angeles Police assistants take away a refrigerator, as investigators gather evidence at the home of suspect Lonnie David Franklin Jr. in Los Angeles. Franklin was arrested July 7, 2010, on 10 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and special circumstance allegations of multiple murders that could make him eligible for the death penalty. Relatives of victims will urge a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, to set a trial date for Franklin, who is charged with 10 counts of murder, and has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Prosecutors are citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved victim's bill of right, to argue that the right to a speedy trial, guaranteed for defendants, also extends to family members of the victims.

    FILE - In this July 9, 2010, file photo, Los Angeles Police assistants take away a refrigerator, as investigators gather evidence at the home of suspect Lonnie David Franklin Jr. in Los Angeles. Franklin was arrested July 7, 2010, on 10 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and special circumstance allegations of multiple murders that could make him eligible for the death penalty. Relatives of victims will urge a Los Angeles Superior Court judge Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, to set a trial date for Franklin, who is charged with 10 counts of murder, and has been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer. Prosecutors are citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved victim's bill of right, to argue that the right to a speedy trial, guaranteed for defendants, also extends to family members of the victims. Associated Press

  • Lonnie Franklin Jr., who has been charged with 10 counts of murder in what have been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killings that spanned two decades, arrives for a court hearing in Los Angeles  on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015. Franklin is scheduled to go on trial at the end of June after anguished family members of the victims told a judge Friday they were tired of years of delay. The 62-year-old is accused of shooting eight of the victims and strangling two of them from 1985 to 2007, the brunt of the crimes during a period when crack cocaine plagued parts of Los Angeles. Police arrested Franklin in July 2010 after his DNA was connected to more than a dozen crime scenes. At left, is attorney, Louisa Pensanti.

    Lonnie Franklin Jr., who has been charged with 10 counts of murder in what have been dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killings that spanned two decades, arrives for a court hearing in Los Angeles on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015. Franklin is scheduled to go on trial at the end of June after anguished family members of the victims told a judge Friday they were tired of years of delay. The 62-year-old is accused of shooting eight of the victims and strangling two of them from 1985 to 2007, the brunt of the crimes during a period when crack cocaine plagued parts of Los Angeles. Police arrested Franklin in July 2010 after his DNA was connected to more than a dozen crime scenes. At left, is attorney, Louisa Pensanti. Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- A man charged with 10 counts of murder in the "Grim Sleeper" serial killings was given a June trial date after anguished family members of the victims told a judge Friday they were tired of years of delay.

Judge Kathleen Kennedy said lawyers would meet June 29 and jury selection would begin the following day in the death penalty case of Lonnie Franklin Jr., who has pleaded not guilty.

Family members of the women and girl slain over two decades in Los Angeles angrily denounced Franklin and blamed his lawyer for dragging his feet in a rare hearing in which they were able to speak under a voter-approved victims' bill of rights.

Samara Herard, the sister of Princess Berthomieux, a teenager killed in 2002, said she appreciated the court's need to balance the defendant's right to a fair trial, but she said she felt hopeless by the "endless dance."

Defense lawyer Seymour Amster blamed the prosecution for delays but agreed to a June trial date after prosecutors said they would be ready in March to argue whether to turn over more evidence to the defense for forensic testing.

Franklin, 62, is accused of shooting eight of the victims and strangling two of them from 1985 to 2007, the brunt of the crimes during a period when crack cocaine plagued parts of Los Angeles. The nickname was coined because of the 14-year gap between slayings in 1988 and 2002.

The hiatus occurred after one woman managed to survive her gunshot wounds. Franklin is charged with attempted murder in that case.

Survivor Enietra Washington took a moment to compose her thoughts Friday when she noticed Franklin sitting next to his lawyer in orange jail clothing.

"You left me for dead. I know it's you for a fact," said Washington, who promised to haunt Franklin. "I thought I forgave you. I was wrong."

Franklin didn't turn to face the family members and showed no emotion during the hearing.

Police arrested Franklin in July 2010 after his DNA was connected to more than a dozen crime scenes. An officer posing as a busboy at a pizza parlor got DNA samples from dishes and utensils Franklin had been eating with at a birthday party.

It's not unusual for capital cases to take years to complete, but Marsy's Law, passed by voters in 2008, gives victims some leverage to speed things up, though it's still not widely used, said attorney Nina Salarno Ashford, a board member of Crime Victims United.

Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said the case has been plagued by delays with no end in sight. Trial dates have been set before, but then scrubbed as the defense continued its investigation.

Amster said his expert found DNA from another man at three of the crime scenes and is seeking to test more material because it could help his client.

Some of the 13 people who spoke during the hearing said afterward that they felt they had been heard in court and were hopeful the case would proceed as scheduled.

But they were also frustrated that other family members who had already passed away wouldn't be there to see the trial.

Porter Alexander Jr., 74, said he waited long enough for an arrest in the 1988 slaying of his daughter, Alicia Monique, that he was going to stay strong to see the case through.

"As God is my witness, I'm going to live to see it," he told the judge.

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