A garbage collector convicted of the “Grim Sleeper” killings that terrorized southern Los Angeles for more than two decades was sentenced to death on Wednesday.
Lonnie David Franklin, 63, had been convicted of 10 counts of first-degree murder for the killings of nine women and a 15-year-old girl between 1985 and 2007.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy told victims’ relatives and friends that the sentencing would be unlikely to give them “closure.”
“Your loved one, your daughter, your sister, your mother, your friend is still gone,” she said.
“Hopefully there is some measure of justice you’ll feel, but closure isn’t what this trial was about.”
During Franklin’s three-month trial, which ended in May, the prosecution presented evidence it said linked him to the killings of another four women, although the authorities suspect he is behind dozens more murders.
After the sentencing, Franklin’s attorney Dale Atherton dismissed California’s death row system as “a joke” and voiced doubts over whether the punishment would ever be carried out.
“The case is far from over. I seriously doubt he’ll be executed -- he’s already too old,” the lawyer told AFP.
Franklin committed crimes dating back to the 1974 kidnapping and gang rape of a 17-year-old girl in Germany while he was in the US military, the court heard.
Franklin showed little emotion during the sentencing, staring straight ahead as victims’ relatives made statements to the court.
Prosecutors had described him as “completely irredeemable” and a “psychopathic, sadistic serial killer who takes joy in inflicting pain on women and killing them.”
The killer stalked the streets of South Los Angeles at a time when an epidemic of crack cocaine plagued the neighbourhood, authorities say.
Several of his victims were prostitutes and drug addicts whom he shot or strangled, dumping their bodies in alleyways or trash bins. He raped some before killing them.
Prosecutors said Franklin took advantage of some of his victims’ addiction to crack, luring them to his backyard camper with money and drugs before killing them.
Investigators searching his home found nearly 200 pictures and videos of women, many of whom have not been identified.
Deputy district attorneys Beth Silverman and Marguerite Rizzo, pushing for the death penalty, pointed to the “staggering number of murders” in the case.
“He routinely manipulated others to achieve his goal: doing evil,” they said in a written submission.
Franklin earned the moniker “Grim Sleeper” because of a 13-year gap in the murders.