LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — More than three years after police arrested a suspect in the so-called “Grim Sleeper” serial killings, no trial date is in sight.
KNX 1070’s Claudia Peschiutta reported that relatives of some of the victims have sent letters to the judge, asking her to move the case forward against 60-year-old Lonnie Franklin, Jr., who was indicted more than two years ago and charged with 10 murders and one attempted murder. He has pleaded not guilty.
Someone noted that many family members are “growing older” and want to see “justice served before they leave this world.” They also believe the defense team is purposely delaying the proceedings.
“It’s almost a taunt and you’re taunting my pain. You’re taunting how that makes me feel,” said Samara Herard, whose foster sister, Princess Berthomieux, was 15 years old when her body was found in an alley in Inglewood in 2002.
“This is an insult, an insult to her memory to drag things out unnecessarily. If he’s guilty, let him be tried and found guilty. If he’s innocent, he needs to be tried and found that, too. But we need to move this along. We need to get to that point. It seems like there’s no end in sight,” she added.
Authorities have said they have evidence linking Franklin to other killings, but have not pursued additional charges in order to avoid further delays in his prosecution.
Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said the defense has picked up only some of the DNA evidence available for testing, but none of the ballistics evidence. She declined to be interviewed on tape but said, “There’s no incentive for the defense to move the case along. That has to be done by the court system.”
During the latest hearing, Defense Attorney Seymour Amster said the defense has not delayed the hearings. He directly addressed the relatives in the courtroom, giving out his phone number and inviting them to call him.
“Nothing is taking too long in this case,” said Amster. “The district attorney’s office is delaying this case by not providing us with discovery we have requested, causing us to litigate it in court.”
Silverman called that a “complete misstatement.” She said the evidence is available, waiting to be picked up.
Amster said he wants all the DNA evidence found at the crime scenes released to the defense.
Relatives waited more than an hour and a half for the latest pretrial hearing to begin. The judge was out sick, so a date was set for another hearing later this month.
“We’re just hoping that we can go to trial later this year. But the way this case is going, it might be another two years,” said Diana Ware. Her stepdaughter, 23-year-old Barbara, was found dead in January 1987.
“It’s really hard, but I have been committed. I said I’m going to see this case through as long as I can,” Ware said. “Every time he’s in court, I wanna be in court, because I want him to know that we are here to see that justice is done.”