‘Grim Sleeper’ Killed|5 Others, Jurors Hear

     LOS ANGELES (CN) — About 15 ½ years ago, Georgia Mae Thomas was found lying on her back in a wide alleyway in an industrial area in South Central Los Angeles.
     She was wearing a brown leather jacket, jeans and a blue thermal shirt. It was a Thursday morning when detectives examined Thomas and saw that two small bullet holes had perforated her shirt.
     Thomas was missing a shoe, which detectives later found just a couple of blocks away, and the sock on that shoeless foot was turned inside out.
     When Thomas’ shirt was removed by law enforcement, LAPD Det. Greg McKnight observed “diluted” pink stains on her bra and two bullet wounds on her chest.
     Oddly, there was no blood on her skin — suggesting the killer had cleaned her body before dumping her in the alleyway on East 57th Street.
     Though there was another pinkish stain on the bra strap, there was no sign of blood on her back either, McKnight told jurors deciding the fate of convicted “Grim Sleeper” serial killer Lonney Franklin Jr. on Monday in downtown Los Angeles.
     In the trash and debris close by, the detective found a piece of newspaper with blood. But there was no ballistics evidence — neither cartridges nor bullets — and the molds taken of nearby tire marks never led authorities to a car.
     The crime scene images shown to the jurors were stark and disturbing. Another body dumped. Another victim shot in the chest.
     But a small but relevant detail made it into McKnight’s testimony that was just as significant: Dec. 28, 2000, the date Thomas was found.
     During Franklin’s trial, prosecutors replayed a familiar timeline. The serial killer who terrorized vulnerable young black women in south LA had killed up until the late 1980s and then resumed the killings in 2002 with the murder of 15-year-old Princess Berthomieux.
     That supposed fallow period earned him the “Grim Sleeper” moniker.
     The date of Thomas’ murder appears to belie that theory and the members of the South Central community scarred by killings, as well as law enforcement and prosecutors, believe that Franklin — found guilty earlier this month of murdering 10 women and the attempted murder of another — may have never been dormant at all.
     Prosecutors are recommending the death penalty for the 63-year-old former trash collector and LAPD garage attendant, husband, and father of two.
     And now that the case has reached the penalty phase, prosecutors have introduced evidence of five more killings.
     In addition to Thomas, prosecutors say Franklin killed 21-year-old Sharon Dismuke and Inez Warren, 28. They were found dead in 1984 and 1988, respectively.
     Identification cards for 18-year-old Ayellah Marshall and Rolenia Morris, 29, were found after a search of Franklin’s garage, the court has heard.
     Authorities have been unable to locate either woman, prosecutor Beth Silverman said last week.
     In order to persuade the 12-member jury, which returned to Judge Kathleen Kennedy’s courtroom last week, county prosecutors have put on the witness stand the surviving family members of the victims.
     During Monday’s testimony, the court heard from Tina Saunders, Dismuke’s younger sister.
     Saunders described how her sister used to sing her siblings to sleep at night. She was a practical joker but smart and strong-willed, Saunders said.
     She was also protective of Tina, who was 15 when her sister died.
     Saunders said that once when a boyfriend had gotten rough with her and left a mark on her leg, Dismuke marched over to his house and warned him not to repeat his behavior. The boy returned to the house and apologized to Saunders but called Dismuke “crazy,” she said during her tearful testimony.
     Like many of the murdered women, Dismuke had a drug problem. Saunders recalled that Dismuke had tried unsuccessfully to help her with her homework and seemed a little “off” — like she might have taken something.
     Saunders says that at one point Dismuke grabbed her arm and told her: “Don’t ever do drugs or I’ll kill you.”
     When the family learned that Dismuke had been murdered they couldn’t believe it, Saunders said.
     “It was just total devastation. Our house was just dismantled. It was taken apart,” Saunders said.
     The court also heard testimony from victim Bernita Sparks’ older brother Alvin Reed, and Lucinda Nobles, who adopted victim Valerie McCorvey’s infant son Matthew after McCorvey’s murder.
     Franklin was charged in 2010.
     The jury found him guilty of the murders of Debra Jackson, Henrietta Wright, Barbara Ware, Sparks, Mary Lowe, Lachrica Jefferson and Alicia Alexander, who were killed in the first period from 1985 to 1988.
     Princess Berthomieux, McCorvey and Janecia Peters were killed during the second period from 2002 to 2007.
     Franklin’s only known survivor, Enietra Washington, testified during the trial that Franklin shot, sexually assaulted her and pushed her out of his Ford Pinto in 1988.
     The jury also found Franklin guilty of her attempted murder.

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