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LA Criminalists Testify|in ‘Grim Sleeper’ Trial

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Two criminalists testified Wednesday in the trial of the alleged "Grim Sleeper" serial killer, telling jurors how they discovered discarded panties, a camisole, lingerie, and bras in piles of junk in the defendant's South LA garage.

Lonnie Franklin, 63, who appeared in court a downtown LA courtroom on Wednesday in a lime green shirt, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he murdered nine women and a 15-year-old girl.

Prosecutors say the African-American mechanic and former garage attendant terrorized black women over a period that began in the mid-1980s.

Franklin has also been charged with the attempted murder of Enietra Washington.

During the trial in downtown Los Angeles, Washington has taken the stand witness to describe how Franklin picked her up in an orange Pinto in 1988, sexually assaulted her, shot her in the chest and pushed her out of the moving car.

Franklin's residence in South Los Angeles was searched in July 2010.

During morning testimony in Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy's courtroom, criminalists Henry Tuazon and Jeffrey Lowe testified about the evidence they found in a twin garage at the back of Franklin's residence.

Tuazon told prosecutor Margueritte Rizzo that he had searched the western part of the garage and an adjacent storage area to identify, collect and preserve evidence.

The criminalist, an investigator with the LAPD's Forensic Science Division from 2007 until 2012, testified that he had been at Franklin's residence during the three-day search.

Tuazon said that it was difficult to walk around the garage because various automotive parts and other junk were piled high.

"It was a mismatch of various things," Tuazon said.

Rizzo showed jurors several images depicting evidence found in the garage and storage area, including a red tool box with pink panties on top. Tuazon's team also found a yellow tub with several pairs of panties and other items of clothing, he testified.

Lowe led the team that collected evidence in the eastern garage.

He testified that a search of a Nissan pickup truck inside the garage had led to the discovery of a black bra and a white plastic bag.

Rizzo asked what Lowe's team found when they opened the bag.

"There was underwear, there was a camisole and a couple of shirts," Lowe said.

Investigators also found lingerie on the dash of the car. In an image shown to the court, the item was resting on the dashboard in a plastic bag. It appeared from the image that there was a reddish stain on the clothing.

The focus of Franklin's criminal defense attorney Seymour Amster's cross-examination was on who had control of evidence that has been used to link his client to the murders.

Going through each item in turn, Amster asked both criminalists if the evidence had been swabbed for DNA at the property.

Both criminalists confirmed that none of the evidence was swabbed for DNA and testified that the crime laboratory would typically conduct the test.

Tuazon said exceptions to that rule are made when evidence is fixed at the property or is too big to remove.

Authorities arrested and charged Franklin six years ago after confirming that his DNA profile matched that of the killer. A detective disguised as a busboy collected a half-eaten pizza from Franklin for DNA evidence during a party at a John's Incredible Pizza restaurant on July 5, 2010.

The search warrant for Franklin's South Central residence uncovered 800 items of evidence, including $17,000 in cash, 10 firearms and photographs of victims.

A .25-caliber Titan pistol recovered from the house matched the bullet used to shoot and kill Franklin's last known victim, Janecia Peters, who was killed on New Year's Day 2007, the prosecution says.

The killer earned the nickname the Grim Sleeper because of an apparent 14-year break in the murders, from 1988 to 2002.

Testimony was scheduled to resume in the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center on Wednesday afternoon.

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