Saturday, March 23, 2013

“Grim Sleeper” Trial in Los Angeles: Families of Black Female Murder Victims are Outraged That Justice is So Slow in Coming, in Trial of Accused Serial Killer Lonnie Franklin Jr.

The Grim Sleeper

A 2010 arraignment picture of “Grim Sleeper” defendant Lonnie Franklin Jr., then 57. Franklin is presently being tried for the murders of 10 black women, but is suspected in as many as 31 other murders. "Suspected killer Lonnie Franklin Jr., dubbed the Grim Sleeper for a 13-year break between his string of 10 [N.S.: alleged?] murders, is pictured during his arraignment in Los Angeles in 2010. (Al Seib/AFP/Getty)"


An undated mug shot of Lonnie Franklin Jr.

Posted by Nicholas Stix

The reasons why the wheels of justice turn so slowly are:

• The nature of the crime. When a female turns up murdered, the police routinely suspect a current or former lover or husband, or a spurned suitor, a suspicion that frequently bears fruit. In a case like this, however, there is no relationship to investigate. Thus, police would have spent a great deal of man-hours, investigating the usual suspects, only to come up empty.

• The black community’s racial profiling of the police: For generations, black L.A. politicians and community leaders have waged war on the LAPD, handcuffing the police. Those black leaders’ hands are drenched in the blood of black crime victims;

• The black community’s support of black criminals. Blacks see suspicious and even obviously criminal behavior in other blacks every day, but almost never call the police, out of loyalty to black criminals. These people also have blood-drenched hands;

• Procedural protections that have been developed, in order to protect the rights of black men. Why do I emphasize black men? Because no one gives a damn about the procedural rights of white men; and

• As Christine Pelisek emphasizes below, the judge herself is permitting the defense to sandbag the proceedings, out of deference to the defendant. What Pelisek cannot say, however, is that this deference, too, is racial in character.

Blacks rage that the police and criminal justice system are racist, when they arrest and convict black men, and rage that the system is racist, when it fails to rapidly arrest, convict, and execute black murderers.

Oops! I just made a mistake. There is very little likelihood that Franklin, if convicted, will be sentenced to die, much less executed. It takes only one black juror to thwart justice, black prospective jurors routinely perjure themselves during voir dire, regarding their willingness to vote for the death penalty, and contemporary practices ensure that there are always multiple black jurors.

Note too that blacks always demand that whites ignore race, when black offenders victimize whites, but obsess over race, when the victims are black, even when the killers are themselves black. It’s always the white devils’ fault!

Thanks to reader-researcher David in TN, who sent this article, remarking,

“Christine Pelisek is a good reporter but she has to go with usual complaints, ‘They don't care about young black women.’”

In August 2011, David wrote,

“Beginning in the 1980's, a large number of killings of black women had been taking place in South Los Angeles. This was said to be the work of ‘The Southside Slayer.’ Most had the same type of MO and victim.

“It turned out there were at least four serial killers at work in the same area at the same time. The suspects convicted are Louis Crain, Michael Hughes (who had one white victim), and Chester Turner.

“Lonnie Franklin, the so-called Grim Sleeper, will stand trial.

“The authorities are still getting DNA hits linked to Hughes and Turner. Hughes is serving ‘life without parole’; Turner is on death row.”

* * *
Notorious serial killer the Grim Sleeper was on the lam for decades. Now there’s a suspect, but his lawyers are dragging their feet. Christine Pelisek on the excruciatingly slow march to justice.

The Grim Sleeper’s Trial is Moving at Snail’s Pace, and Victims’ Families are Furious
By Christine Pelisek
March 21, 2013 4:45 a.m. EDT
The Daily Beast

For the past three years, Diana Ware has often made the 30-mile bus trek from the middle-class suburb of West Covina, California, to the criminal-courts building in downtown Los Angeles. The bus drops her off a block from the courthouse, and she walks the rest of the way. “Lately it has been harder,” says the retiree. “It winds me, and I have a bad knee.”

The 74-year-old former office worker has made the journey to attend the pretrial hearings for “Grim Sleeper” serial killer suspect Lonnie Franklin Jr., the former sanitation worker accused of killing Ware’s 23-year-old stepdaughter, Barbara, and nine other women. Since Franklin was arrested on July 10, 2010, she has missed only two of over a dozen hearings, one because she had a doctor’s appointment.

Ware waited 25 years for Franklin to be tracked down, a delay in justice that many victims’ families attribute to the fact that the victims were young black women. Now, three years after his arrest, she has grown frustrated again with the slow pace of Franklin’s defense team, which hasn’t yet tested DNA and ballistic evidence essential to the case. Even the judge appears to have become exasperated. Will a verdict ever come?

“I hope to see this guy brought to justice, and the way it is going, I might not be able to make it,” says Ware.

Franklin faces the death penalty for an alleged 22-year murder spree that began August 10, 1985, when cocktail waitress Debra Jackson’s decomposed body was found covered with a dark red carpet in a South Los Angeles alley. His last known victim was 25-year-old Janecia Peters. A homeless man found her nude body in a Dumpster on January 1, 2007.

Most of Franklin’s alleged victims, who ranged in age from 14 to 35 years old, were shot with a .25-caliber pistol. Others were strangled. Their bodies were discovered under filthy rugs and mattresses in Dumpsters and alleyways along a sleazy stretch of Western Avenue in South Los Angeles known for cheap motels, liquor stores, and storefront churches. He was tied to the cases through ballistics and DNA evidence.

Police suspect that he may have killed at least six additional women in addition to the 10 whose deaths he's charged with.

The case of Ware’s stepdaughter’s death went cold in the ’80s despite some titillating clues. Shortly after midnight on the night of her murder, a man in a phone booth called a Los Angeles dispatcher and claimed he saw a man dump a woman’s body out of a blue and white van in an alleyway in South Los Angeles. The caller even gave the license-plate number. When the dispatcher asked the caller for his name, he laughed before responding: “I know too many people. OK then. Bye-bye.” (Detectives now believe the caller was Franklin.)

“It’s tiresome to go there and listen to nothing and come home empty.”

Ware, who was shot once in the chest, was found in a pile of trash with a plastic bag draped over her upper torso and head.

Despite living in the midst of the same black working-class neighborhoods as the women he preyed on, Franklin was apprehended only after his son, then 28, was imprisoned on a weapons charge in the summer of 2009 and had to give up a DNA swab. Through familial DNA testing, the elder Franklin was linked to the slayings.

Parents of the slain women believe the murders went unsolved for decades partly because “they were a bunch of poor, young black girls,” says Laverne Peters, the mother of Franklin’s last known alleged victim. “Black parents see it all the time,” says Peters. “It becomes important when it happens to white kids.”

Now it’s the defense that’s delaying justice, they believe.

“We are going back and forth to court listening to Franklin’s attorney make all these excuses,” says Porter Alexander, whose 18-year-old daughter, Monique, was found dead in an alley in September 1988. “It is about him trying to extend it as long as he can.”

"LaTanya Clark (left), Ola Marshall, and Frank Marshall, family members of missing women, react as police detectives show photos of women they believe may be linked to Lonnie Franklin Jr. in Los Angeles in 2011. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)"

“It’s tiresome to go there and listen to nothing and come home empty,” he added. “He thinks that maybe it will die out and the family members won’t be around to see. I will be here till the end of time. Give the young ladies some peace and give them some closure.”

At a pretrial hearing for Franklin last week, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy asked why defense attorney Seymour Amster, after 18 months on the case, had yet to hire experts to analyze the ballistics and DNA evidence at the heart of the prosecution’s case.

“We’re in this quagmire where there’s no progress being made,” said Kennedy.

Amster responded by challenging Kennedy to take him off the case. “If the court feels we are not doing something in good faith ... the court has remedies.”

If finding someone to examine the evidence “is a task that is beyond your capabilities, perhaps you are not the right attorneys,” said Kennedy.

Outside experts say that judges in death-penalty cases tend to not push lawyers as hard because of potential future appeal issues. “Judges are more lenient in terms of preparation,” says criminal-defense attorney Ezekiel Perlo. “But for the most part there is an awareness by judges that we will give the defense a little longer to prepare because of the mistakes that could happen, have happened, and probably will continue to happen. No judge wants to be reversed on any cases, and capital cases are so expensive, and no one wants to go back and do it again.”

Of course, technically, delays benefit the defense. “I know [for] some lawyers, the longer they delay the case, the better,” said Perlo. “For me it had to do with, if I delay this thing, maybe they will offer me a deal. What good would come out of trying the case?”

Meanwhile, as the battle plays out in the courtroom, the families struggle. Since her daughter was murdered, Laverne Peters has been raising her daughter’s young son, now 11. “He still misses his mother,” says Peters, who had to take time off from her teaching job to deal with her grief. “I can do what I can, but I am not his mother. I am still working on things myself.”

Despite the long wait, Samara Herard says she will not give up. Herald’s 15-year-old foster sister, Princess Berthomieux, was found dead in an Inglewood alley in 2002. Berthomieux was placed in foster care when she was 3 years old after she was beaten, hogtied, and forced to have sex with her father’s friends. “I am haunted,” she says. “I always feel like I could and should have done more. I have not been the same. I come to court because I want to know justice was served for a young lady who went through hell. She needs to have her murderer put away.”

Franklin’s next hearing date is scheduled for March 25.

Christine Pelisek is a staff reporter for The Daily Beast, covering crime. She was previously a reporter at the LA Weekly, where she covered crime for the last five years. In 2008 she won three Los Angeles Press Club awards, one for her investigative story on the Grim Sleeper.

[Previously, on this case, at WEJB/NSU:

“Updates on the Los Angeles ‘Grim Sleeper’ and ‘Westside Rapist’ Serial Murder Cases, from David in Tennessee”;

“LAPD Detectives Now Looking at ‘Grim Sleeper’ Defendant Lonnie Franklin Jr. in 250 Cold Cases”;

“DNA Law That Caught 2004 Suspect and the Grim Sleeper Struck Down”; and

“LAPD Links 6 More Murders to Alleged “Grim Sleeper” Serial Killer, Lonnie Franklin.”


Anonymous said...

Nicholas you Racist jerk

Anonymous said...

Truly a racist article. The procedural rights of white men were established firmly in the constitution as blacks were described as chattel property. Get a law degree dumb ass or at least a decent grasp on criminal procedure. Signed, a smarter than you black woman lawyer.

Nicholas said...

Dear Anonymous Coward II,

If you’re a black woman, and I have no reason to doubt that you are, you’re by definition smarter than me. You’re all smarter than me; isn’t that so?

Now that we’ve established that you’re a genius, maybe you could make a cogent criticism that has something to do with my article, dumbass!

I hope you conduct yourself with more professionalism and intelligence as a lawyer, than you do as an anonymous coward at someone else’s blog.



David In TN said...

I just sent you a piece from today's (May 22, 2015) Los Angeles Times. It's a piece on a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court concerning the Grim Sleeper Case.

The judge granted still another delay for the defense. Two years later and the defense STILL hasn't done the testing they claim they want.

Today Judge Kennedy delayed the start of the trial from June 30 to September 9. This has gone on for years.

David In TN said...

I just sent you an article in which the producer of the HBO Grim Sleeper film attacks law enforcement for "taking 30 years to convict Lonnie Franklin."

You explain why above.