Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

'Grim Sleeper' suspect arraigned on grand jury indictment in killings of 10 women

March 24, 2011 |  2:53 pm

The case against accused serial killer Lonnie David Franklin Jr. was put on an accelerated track toward trial Thursday, when he was arraigned on a grand jury indictment charging him with killing 10 women.

Franklin, 58, was arrested in July, and prosecutors filed charges accusing him of killing the 10 women over two decades, beginning in the 1980s.

Typically, the next step in the legal proceedings would have been for prosecutors to present evidence against Franklin at a preliminary hearing to convince a judge that there was sufficient reason to order Franklin to stand trial.

Eight months after the arrest, however, the date for a preliminary hearing still had not been set. Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley opted to take a different route, turning instead to a grand jury.

After hearing six days of testimony by 40 witnesses, the jurors found that there was sufficient evidence against Franklin, who will now proceed directly to a criminal trial. A trial date was not set.

“The indictment in the ‘Grim Sleeper’ case that was unsealed today in the Superior Court was necessitated by a desire to move this significant murder case forward to trial,” Cooley said in a written statement. “The families of the victims should be accorded timely resolution of the allegations of the murders of their loved ones.”

Franklin allegedly killed seven women between 1985 and 1988 and three between 2002 and 2007 -- all in South Los Angeles.

The long gap between the two periods earned the killer the nickname “The Grim Sleeper,” from the LA Weekly, although police have been skeptical that the slayings stopped during the 13-year gap.

In January, they announced the strongest evidence yet that the killings had not ceased: Two homicides during the interim involving women slain in the South L.A. area where the other killings occurred.

Franklin, who has pleaded not guilty to killing 10 people, has not been charged in the new cases.

Prosecutors accuse Franklin of being one of Los Angeles’ most prolific serial killers, targeting women on the margins of society — including some prostitutes and drug addicts — over nearly a quarter-century.

Many of the victims were sexually assaulted before they were killed and dumped in alleys and trash bins.

After Franklin was charged in July, the LAPD said it was reviewing about 30 unsolved killings to see if any of them could be connected to him.

-- Andrew Blankstein at Los Angeles County Superior Court and Joel Rubin