L.A.’s ‘Grim Sleeper’ murder trial closing arguments underway

LOS ANGELES A former Los Angeles sanitation worker charged with murdering nine women and a teenage girl was a serial killer who quietly blended into his community to in order to kill, prosecutors said on Monday as closing arguments began in the so-called “Grim Sleeper” case.

The arguments bring to a close the nearly three-month trial in Los Angeles Superior Court of Lonnie David Franklin Jr., 63, who could face the death penalty if convicted of the 10 counts of first-degree murder against him.

“The defendant is a serial killer who was basically hiding in plain sight,” Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told jurors, according to an account of the proceedings by City News Service. “He blended in.”

Defense attorneys were expected to make their closing arguments later on Monday afternoon or on Tuesday morning.

Franklin, who was arrested in 2010 and has pleaded not guilty, stands charged with the shooting deaths of seven women between August 1985 and September 1988, and the strangulation deaths of a 15-year-old girl and two other women when the killings resumed between March 2002 and January 2007.

Prosecutors say the victims were sexually assaulted before their deaths, their bodies were found dumped in alleys and trash bins in South Los Angeles, an area gripped by rampant drug abuse, prostitution and other crime at the height of a crack cocaine epidemic that engulfed impoverished neighborhoods during the 1980s.

He is charged with the attempted murder of an 11th victim, Enietra Washington, who was shot in the chest, raped, pushed out of a car and left for dead in 1988. Washington testified during the trial that Franklin was the man who attacked her.

The gap of more than 13 years between the two spates of killings earned the mass murderer the nickname “Grim Sleeper.”

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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