Los Angeles

Defense Claims ‘Mystery Man' is the ‘Grim Sleeper' Serial Killer

A defense lawyer representing the man accused in the "Grim Sleeper" serial killings in Los Angeles says a "mystery man" was the real killer.

Attorney Seymour Amster told jurors Tuesday in his closing argument that a witness who survived being shot testified that the man who attacked her in his Ford Pinto had stopped earlier at his "uncle's" house to get money.

The survivor, Enietra Washington, later led detectives to the house of 63-year-old Lonnie Franklin Jr., who is accused of 10 counts of murder and her attempted killing.

Amster says she described her assailant as much younger than Franklin and says the real killer could be an unnamed nephew.

Amster says each murder could have been committed by a mystery man with a mystery gun with mystery DNA.

Amster also questioned the analysis of DNA results.

On Monday, a prosecutor displayed charts, diagrams, photos and DNA test results to jurors to make her case that Franklin was a killer hiding in plain sight, shooting and strangling women -- many prostitutes -- and dumping their bodies in alleys not far from his home.

"Ten young women," Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said during closing arguments in Los Angeles Superior Court. "All of them cruelly murdered by that man."

Franklin, a former garbage collector who also worked as a mechanic for the Los Angeles Police Department, could face the death penalty if convicted of the slayings of a 15-year-old girl and nine young women. He has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder in the case of a woman who survived.

Silverman spent hours discussing how ballistics tests showed that most of the women had been killed by the same gun, their bodies deposited in similar places and Franklin's DNA found on victims and the zip tie of the trash bag holding Peters' body.

Amster said that prosecutors had built a circumstantial case using inferior science and that patterns they attempted to show were nothing more than illusions.

The killings Franklin is charged with were later dubbed the work of the "Grim Sleeper" because while the first victim was found in 1985 and the last in 2007, there was a 14-year gap when no bodies turned up. Despite that, prosecutors believe his violence never ceased.

Franklin was arrested in 2010 after a police officer posing as busboy at a pizza parlor birthday party collected DNA samples from a pizza crust and napkin that connected him to the victims.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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