Lonnie David Franklin Jr., better known as the “Grim Sleeper,” has been sentenced to death. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy announced the decision on Wednesday, August 10.
In May, a jury convicted Franklin of 10 counts of murder: nine women and one teenage girl between 1985 and 2007. During the trial, prosecutors also connected him to several other murders, with detectives believing he may have been responsible for the deaths of at least 25 women.
“This is not a sentence of vengeance,” said the judge, who denied the defense’s motion for a new trial, as the Los Angeles Times notes. “It’s justice.”
Franklin, 63, was also convicted of attempted murder in connection with an attack on Enietra Washington, who survived and went on to testifying against him, calling Franklin a “piece of evil.” “You’re Satan representative,” she said. “You’re right up there with Manson.”
For more than 22 years, Franklin took the lives of innocent victims in South Los Angeles, earning the nickname “Grim Sleeper” because of an apparent gap in his killings between 1988 and 2002. Franklin was arrested in July 2010 after prosecutors built their case on DNA evidence. When he first started his slayings, police didn’t know who the killer was but linked seven murders to the same .25-caliber handgun. It wasn’t until they had the correct DNA technology that they began to track him down.
In 2014 HBO released Nick Bloomfield’s “Tales of the Grim Sleeper,” a documentary that dug into the case of the serial killer and explored how the killings went unsolved for many years. The film was also an official selection of the 2014 Telluride, Toronto and New York film festivals.
“It’s a great relief to have some closure in a case that’s been going on for 30 years,” Broomfield told Indiewire in an interview back in May. “Having said that, I think it is time to demand for an inquiry into why it took police so long to catch Lonnie Franklin, who was not a particularly skilled killer, nor someone who contrived some ingenious plan to get away with it. This 25 years was passable because of the complete police disinterest in the people he was murdering, who were poor black women in South Central.”
More than a dozen of family members and friends of the victims read statements and addressed Franklin, asking him why he did the things that he did.
“At the end of the day the issue for the court is whether the evidence supports the jury’s verdict in this case — which was their conclusion that the aggravating circumstances so outweigh the mitigating circumstances that death is appropriate,” Kennedy told the courtroom, as noted by CNN. “I find that the aggravating circumstances do so substantially outweigh the circumstances of mitigation as to warrant death — and that the jury’s verdict imposing the death penalty is fully supported by the law and the evidence presented at this trial.”
“If I could snap my fingers and bring all these victims back to life, I would do it in a heartbeat,” Kennedy stated. “But at the end of the day, your loved one, your daughter, your sister, your mother, your friend, is still gone. Hopefully there is some measure of justice you will feel, but closure is not what this trial is about.”