Death penalty to be sought in "Grim Sleeper" case

LOS ANGELES Mon Aug 1, 2011 2:53pm EDT

Lonnie David Franklin Jr. stands in court during his arraignment on 10 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder in Los Angeles Criminal Court July 8, 2010. REUTERS/Al Seib/Pool

Lonnie David Franklin Jr. stands in court during his arraignment on 10 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder in Los Angeles Criminal Court July 8, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Al Seib/Pool

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles prosecutors said on Monday they will seek the death penalty against a retired sanitation worker and mechanic accused of being a serial killer dubbed the "Grim Sleeper."

The announcement came during a pre-trial hearing for Lonnie David Franklin Jr., 58, who was indicted in March on 10 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder in the sensational case.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said prosecutors would ask a jury to recommend a death sentence for Franklin if he is convicted at trial.

Franklin, who has been held without bail since his arrest in July 2010, is accused of shooting to death or strangling seven of his victims between August 1985 and September 1988, then killing three others between March 2002 and January 2007.

The serial killer believed responsible for the slayings was dubbed the "Grim Sleeper" by a local newspaper because of the gap of more than 12 years between the two sets of murders.

The victims ranged in age from 14 to 36, and many were prostitutes. Some were raped before they were slain. Their bodies were dumped in alleys and trash bins and covered with debris.

The surviving victim was shot in the chest, raped, then pushed out of the suspect's car and left for dead in 1988.

Franklin was initially suspected after police took a DNA sample from his son in an unrelated case and found that it closely resembled DNA evidence recovered in the "Grim Sleeper" murders.

He is scheduled to return to court on November 7 for further pretrial proceedings.

(Editing by Steve Gorman

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