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Jurors vote for death sentence for 'Grim Sleeper' killer

By Shawn Price
Jurors vote for death sentence for 'Grim Sleeper' killer
A Los Angeles County jury voted Lonnie Franklin Jr. -- now nicknamed the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer -- should receive the death penalty for murdering at least nine women and one teenage girl between 1985 and 2007. His victims' naked bodies were dumped near trash or along roadsides, one was strangled, the rest were shot. Photo by the Los Angeles Police Department

LOS ANGELES, June 6 (UPI) -- A Los Angeles County jury voted Monday the man known as the "Grim Sleeper" serial killer should be executed.

The vote by the seven-woman, five-man-jury essentially ends a thirty-year nightmare for residents of South Los Angeles. Lonnie Franklin Jr. was convicted last month of killing at least nine women and one teenage girl between 1985 and 2007. Authorities believe he is responsible for several more.

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The verdict for the 63-year-old former sanitation worker set off rumbles of emotion in the courtroom, as families of the victims began to put the murders behind them.

Diana Ware, a step-mother of one of the victims, said she had been coming to the courthouse for years in anticipation of this verdict.

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"I'm just glad it's over and that he'll never get out to hurt anyone else," she said. "Justice was served."

The victims' were often prostitutes and drug addicts, whose bodies were typically dumped naked on roadsides or among trash. Because many of the victims were at first listed at Jane Does, the murder remained unconnected for decades.

"Addiction caused these women to be extremely vulnerable," Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told jurors during the trial. "This was a perfect opportunity for someone who knew the streets and alleyways by heart. Someone who knew where the drug-addicted women and prostitutes would congregate. ... It was the perfect time for a serial killer to roam the streets of Los Angeles."

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Enietra Washington accepted a ride from Franklin in 1998 and survived being raped and shot twice in the chest to eventually testify against him. One of Franklin's victims was strangled, the rest were shot.

LAPD put together a task force to catch the Grim Sleeper in 2007 and ultimately arrested Franklin.

Silverman became emotional about the relationships she built during the multi-year trial.

"They've been in our lives and we've been in their lives in a very intimate way for the past six years, and that's not something for us that ends," she said. "We did what we could do to bring this chapter to a close in the best way we could, but at the same time our connection with them goes on, but their needs for us maybe starts to wane and they start getting back to their lives, so it's a difficult time."

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