Lonnie Franklin, Jr., the Los Angeles man accused of being the serial killer dubbed the “Grim Sleeper”, has brought in a private attorney who says she will represent him for free.
Attorney Louisa Pensanti represented Franklin in court on Monday, to answer charges of 10 counts of murder and 1 count of attempted murder. Pensanti has never litigated a death penalty case before, but claims to have experience handling multiple murder cases. Although the judge in the case warned her the case could drag on for several years, Pensanti insists that she will continue to represent Franklin pro bono.
A resident of the area formerly known as South Central, Franklin is accused of killing ten women in killing sprees that took place between 1985 and 1988 and again between 2002 and 2007. The 14-year gap in the killings led to the police nicknaming the killer, “Grim Sleeper”.
Some victims’ families have accused the police in the past of not pursuing the case aggressively enough, but the break in the case that ultimately led to Franklin’s arrest was the use of the controversial ‘familial DNA’ technique, after Franklin’s son was arrested on an unrelated charge.
Franklin’s friends and neighbors have noted that many of his behaviors were odd in retrospect, especially his stories of violent fantasies against prostitutes and hostile attitudes towards women in general. Especially in light of a police sketch based on the testimony of the one surviving victim, which bears only moderate resemblance to Franklin, they failed to suspect Franklin of being the killer prior to his arrest.
Following his court appearance yesterday, Franklin is scheduled for arraignment on August 23. Families of the victims had a memorial service today in Los Angeles.