LOS ANGELES (CN) - Relatives of nine murdered young black women took the stand on Wednesday as the prosecution rested its case against accused Grim Sleeper serial killer Lonnie Franklin Jr.
The witnesses were sisters, a step-mother, a father, an aunt, a cousin and a daughter of victims. Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman greeted each one of them in turn and directed them to the stand. They gave brief testimony and identified their loved ones via autopsy images projected on a white screen in court.
Tanya Everett was the first person sworn in. She is the younger sister of the Grim Sleeper's first victim 29-year-old Debra Jackson, who was shot three times in the chest and dumped in an alley in the Vermont-Slauson area of South LA.
Barbara Ware's stepmother Diana Ware testified next. Diana married Barbara's father when Barbara was six years old. Seventeen years later, Barbara's lifeless body was dumped out of a blue and white van on East 56th Street in the Central Alameda area.
A gas tank was thrown on top of her and only her feet were visible, an anonymous male caller told 911 at the time.
When Silverman showed a photograph of another victim, Alicia Alexander, to her father Porter Alexander Jr., he told the court: "That's my baby daughter."
Alexander was 18 when her body was found discarded in an alleyway in Vermont Square on Sept. 11, 1988.
Silverman asked Everett and each witness during brief testimony if any one of them knew or was related to the black man seated across from them in the courtroom in a white shirt, black glasses and tie.
They all said no.
That man is 63-year-old Lonnie Franklin Jr. He is standing trial on charges that he murdered nine women and a 15-year-old girl, Princess Berthomieux.
The victims were often sex workers, and prosecutors say Franklin prowled the streets during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic, killing seven women during a period that ended in 1988.
Among the murdered were Debra Jackson, Henrietta Wright, Barbara Ware, Bernita Sparks, Mary Lowe, Lachrica Jefferson, and Alicia Alexander.
Between 2002 and 2007 Berthomieux, Valerie McCorvey, and Janecia Peters were murdered. They have also been linked to the Grim Sleeper, who earned the name because of a fallow 14-year period that came to end in the early 2000s.
Franklin's DNA was found on all 11 of his victims, Silverman has said, including the only verified survivor Enietra Washington. Washington has testified that Franklin picked her up in an orange Pinto in 1988, sexually assaulted her, shot her and then pushed her out of the moving car.
Franklin is also standing trial for her attempted murder.
Alicia Alexander's older brother Donnell told reporters on Wednesday that his sister was a kind and loving person who "didn't have an opportunity to grow up to be an adult."
"She'd just turned 18 and he took her at a tender age," Alexander said.
It was important for him to attend the trial because "my sister can't be here," he said.
"This whole case is not only about my sister but other girls," he added. "So, we have to be here to support them because otherwise their voice wouldn't be heard."
Alexander has attended every day of the trial and has come to court since Franklin was charged six years ago.