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‘Grim Sleeper’ Suspect Pleads ‘Not Guilty’

The man suspected of being the “Grim Sleeper” serial killer pleaded not guilty today to the murders of 10 women in South Los Angeles over a 20-year period.

Lonnie David Franklin Jr., 57, is due back in court Sept. 14, when a date is expected to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require him to stand trial on 10 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Franklin is being represented for free by attorney Louisa Pensanti, who told reporters outside the courtroom that she is assembling a defense team and expects it to take at least six months to prepare for a preliminary hearing.

“I believe that time is needed to fully investigate this,” she said.

Pensanti added her client is “very concerned about his family, and his family is very concerned about him.”

Franklin was arrested July 7 in front of his home in the 1700 block of West 81st Street, where he worked as a neighborhood backyard mechanic, and has been in jail without bail since then.

He was identified as a suspect via familial DNA — investigators determined that his son had DNA similar to the killer, and when they subsequently got Franklin’s DNA, his genetic material allegedly matched forensic evidence from eight murders between 1985 and 1988, and three murders between 2001 and 2007.

The killer was dubbed the Grim Sleeper because of the 13-year break between killing sprees.

Many of the killer’s victims were prostitutes. Some were raped before being shot to death with a small-caliber handgun. Their bodies were dumped in alleys and trash bins in South Los Angeles, Inglewood and unincorporated county areas.

A woman who survived an attack in 1988 described the suspect as a black man in his 20s, driving an orange Ford Pinto. She said he picked her up, shot her in the chest, raped her, then pushed her out of his car.

Franklin is accused of the murdering:

— Debra Jackson on Aug. 10, 1985;

— Henrietta Wright on Aug. 12, 1986;

— Barbara Ware on Jan. 10, 1987;

— Bernita Sparks on April 15, 1987;

— Mary Lowe on Nov. 1, 1987;

— Lachrica Jefferson on Jan. 30, 1988;

— Alicia Alexander on Sept. 11, 1988;

— Princess Berthomieux on March 19, 2002;

— Valerie McCorvey on July 11, 2003; and

— Janecia Peters on Jan. 1, 2007.

The former city sanitation worker and LAPD garage attendant is suspected, but was not charged, with an 11th murder involving a man who was killed in 1986.

The attempted murder occurred on Nov. 20, 1988.

KESQ News Team

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