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Interrogation of Accused ‘Grim Sleeper’ Shown

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Lonnie Franklin Jr. - standing trial on charges accusing him of being LA's "Grim Sleeper" serial killer - looked relaxed in a khaki work shirt and jeans as the detective pulled the photographs out of his folder and placed them on the table. By the time the officer was done, the images were fanned out on the table like playing cards.

Each time Detectives Paul Coulter and Dennis Kilcoyne asked Franklin if he knew the young black women in the pictures they heard a similar response: I don't know this woman and never saw her before.

When Coulter placed a picture of Bernita Sparks, who had been found dead and dumped in a trash can in Gramercy Park in 1987, Franklin was not impressed.

"She look fat," Franklin told the two detectives.

The former garage attendant called Henrietta Wright, another victim dumped in an alley on West Vernon Avenue almost 30 years ago, "butt-ugly."

Immortalized in a video played to jurors on Tuesday in the death penalty case, the three-hour-long video was abbreviated to 40 minutes to exclude depictions of Franklin sitting quietly in a police interview room after his arrest.

Franklin, 63, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he murdered nine women and a 15-year-old girl. He also faces one count of the attempted murder of another woman.

Prosecutors say the African-American defendant killed vulnerable young black women over a period that began in the mid-1980s.

The victims were often sex workers, and prosecutors say Franklin prowled the streets during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic and killed seven women during a period that ended in 1988.

Another four murders between 2002 until 2007 have been linked to the Grim Sleeper, who earned the name because of a fallow period during the late 1980s and 1990s.

During the course of the July 7, 2010 video interview that was played in court, Franklin sometimes laughed and often appeared indifferent as the two detectives told him his DNA had been found on all the girls in the pictures.

"I have no clue how it would get there," Franklin said.

Eager to get a confession, Kilcoyne, who also appeared as a witness on Tuesday afternoon, implored Franklin to think of the victims' families and loved ones.

He asked Franklin, who has fathered a son and daughter, to imagine if his girl was in one of the photos - adding that Franklin seemed like he had a "conscience" and "soul"

"Everyone of them had a family just like you," Kilcoyne said. "And they deserve an answer."

But the answer was not forthcoming.

Franklin also mangled the Grim Sleeper nickname. When the detectives asked him if he knew what the media was calling the killer, Franklin replied: "The Reaper... The Gram Reaper or something."

During morning testimony, LAPD robbery-homicide detective Daryn Dupree told prosecutor Beth Silverman that bodies of the 10 victims had been found between 1.5 and 4 miles from Franklin's residence on West 81st Street in South Central LA.

In the afternoon, Dupree also testified about a decades-old video that depicted a young black woman stripping down in Franklin's dining room.

In the sexually explicit recording, Franklin is shown putting his mouth on the woman after unbuckling and dropping his pants. They later disappear into a kitchen. Franklin then emerges with his pants back on and holding what appears to be a tissue. After the girl returns to the dining area and puts on jeans and a t-shirt, Franklin moves towards the camera and turns it off.

Prosecutor Beth Silverman told Superior Court judge Kathleen Kennedy that the prosecution expects to rest its case this week.

The trial began on Feb. 16 at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown LA.

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