‘Grim Sleeper’ says he didn’t authorize police to seize items before arrest
LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The alleged “Grim Sleeper” testified today that he did not consent to the collection or testing of DNA evidence seized by an undercover detective posing as a bus boy at a pizza parlor, but a judge ruled the accused serial killer had no standing to challenge what happened to the items once he discarded them.
In brief testimony during a hearing seeking to have the DNA evidence suppressed, Lonnie Franklin Jr. told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy that he thought the items collected from him at a Buena Park restaurant prior to his July 2010 arrest were being taken by a restaurant employee and believed they would be “mixed with the rest of the trash.”
“Did you ever consent to your bodily fluids being tested by law enforcement or a third party?”, defense attorney Seymour Amster asked his client.
“No, I didn’t,” said Franklin, who is charged with the murders of 10 women between 1985 and 2007 and the attempted murder of an 11th woman.
Under cross-examination by Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman, Franklin acknowledged that he had a string of convictions for crimes including battery, false imprisonment, grand theft auto and receiving stolen property.
Under questioning by the judge, the 61-year-old accused killer said he believed the items he had used at the restaurant on July 5, 2010, were going to be disposed of and destroyed.
The judge noted that there was no evidence that Franklin knew at that point that he was a suspect or under surveillance, saying that he ended his association with the items once he discarded them and “doesn’t have standing thereafter to challenge what happened to those items.”
Franklin’s attorneys had sought to suppress the evidence that was collected from Incredible John’s Pizza Co., where he testified that he had gone for a church birthday party.
“They have to masquerade as a restaurant employee (to obtain the evidence),” Amster said of Los Angeles police, arguing that his client had a reasonable expectation that his trash would be collected by restaurant personnel rather than law enforcement.
The defense contended that the collection of the evidence, including an unfinished slice of pizza, a napkin and two cups, by undercover Los Angeles police violated Franklin’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures.
“From those unlawfully seized pieces of evidence, the Los Angeles Police Department was able to obtain defendant’s DNA which allegedly matched the samples of some victims,” another of Franklin’s attorneys, Louisa Pensanti wrote in a motion seeking suppression of the evidence.
Silverman countered that Franklin lost all potential expectation of privacy regarding the property once he agreed to dispose of it. The prosecution maintained that Franklin had abandoned the items.
The former city sanitation worker was arrested two days after the items were collected and has remained jailed without bail since then.
Prosecutors announced in August 2011 that they intended to seek the death penalty against Franklin, who is charged with killing 10 women, many of them prostitutes, and dumping their remains in alleys and trash bins in and around South Los Angeles, Inglewood and unincorporated county areas. Some were raped before being shot to death with a small-caliber handgun.
The charges involve killings between 1985 and 1988, and 2002 and 2007, with the assailant being dubbed the “Grim Sleeper” because of the apparent 13- year break between killing sprees. Detectives have said since his arrest that they were also investigating whether he might be connected to the disappearance or deaths of eight other women whose photos were found in his home near 81st Street and Harvard Boulevard.
Franklin is due back at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse Jan. 21 for another pretrial hearing.