Jurors on Monday returned with a death sentence for the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer who prowled South Los Angeles' streets for three decades.
Lonnie Franklin, 63, was convicted May 5 of murdering nine black women and a 15-year-old girl, as well as the attempted murder of another woman, between 1985 and 2007.
In recent weeks, family members of the victims described in emotional testimony the enduring pain that Franklin's violence has brought them. Prosecutors also told jurors that Franklin had more victims, including five additional deaths or disappearances that matched his pattern of killing.
A woman from Germany also testified that Franklin kidnapped and raped her when she was a teenager and he was stationed there with the U.S. Army in 1974.
Only one punishment could serve as justice for a lifetime pursuing such vicious crimes, Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told the jury.
Franklin was eligible for the death penalty in part because he committed multiple murders. The jury could have sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Defense attorney Dale Atherton had tried appealing to the jury’s conscience, arguing that a death sentence would only reopen old wounds and delay the healing process.
However, after the jury handed down the sentence Monday, the victims' family members expressed relief at the outcome.
Franklin was arrested in 2010, three years after detectives linked the deaths of 10 victims to one killer through a combination of DNA and firearms evidence. Franklin's DNA was ultimately found to be a match to the killer's unique profile when a new state program turned up his son as a partial match.
Claudia Koerner is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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