LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Court delays for the accused serial killer known as the Grim Sleeper could drag on even longer after a defense attorney asked a judge Monday for permission to photograph nearly 900 pieces of evidence, some of which date back more than 28 years.
Prosecutors say it will be a “herculean task” to inventory and open every evidence package in the case against Lonnie David Franklin Jr., who has been charged with killing 10 women between 1985 and 2007. The remains of the women were found dumped in alleys and trash bins in and near South Los Angeles.
“There are close to 900 items that are booked,” said Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman, adding that it would take “a months’ worth of work” to review.
“We want to make sure we don’t compromise the integrity of any DNA evidence,” said Deputy District Attorney Marguerite Rizzo.
Defense attorney Seymour Amster is insisting on a complete inventory.
“We’re very concerned about what exists and what doesn’t exist from what was seized,” Amster said.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy asked Amster to comply with the prosecutors’ request for a detailed listing of the evidence he wants to review, victim by victim. She wants a listing for the first victim by Dec.
The judge, however, took Amster to task over delays in the work by the defense’s DNA and ballistics experts. The prosecutor’s expert completed his review in two weeks, but even though it has been in the hands of the defense expert for months, Amster said his expert was not ready to examine the evidence yet. Amster told the judge he could explain why his expert needed more time, but only in a sealed declaration.
Amster was ordered to return on Dec. 16 with declarations on the status of work by both the defense’s DNA And ballistics experts.
Franklin, seated in court in orange prison clothes, has been jailed since his arrest on July 7, 2010.
The serial killer was dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” because of an assumed 13-year gap between killing sprees. Prosecutors say some of his victims — many of whom were prostitutes — were raped before being shot to death with a small-caliber handgun.
Investigators said Franklin’s DNA matched forensic evidence from eight murders between 1985 and 1988 and another three between 2001 and 2007 and linked him to the attempted murder of a woman who survived an attack in 1988.
Detectives said he might also be connected to the disappearance or death of eight other women whose photos were found in his home near 81st Street and Harvard Boulevard.
A grand jury indicted Franklin — a former city sanitation worker who also worked in the Los Angeles Police Department motor pool — on March 23, 2011. The indictment was intended to speed the time to trial.
Today, outside the courtroom, members of the victims’ families quizzed prosecutors about the next steps, wondering aloud when the case would finally come to trial.
The judge said she wants the final pretrial hearing to happen in June, with trial to follow shortly thereafter.
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