A serial killer known as the "Grim Sleeper" was sentenced to death Wednesday for the murders of nine women and a teenage girl that went unsolved for years as the body count grew in a poor section of Los Angeles haunted by the scourge of crack cocaine. Lonnie Franklin Jr. was sentenced in Los Angeles County Superior Court after emotional family members of his victims spoke about the pain they had endured for decades, the AP reports. "I can't think of anyone I've encountered in all my years in the criminal justice system that has committed the monstrous crimes that you have," Judge Kathleen Kennedy told Franklin.
The killings occurred over more than two decades during the crack epidemic, and community members complained that police didn't seriously investigate because the victims were black and poor and many were drug users and prostitutes. Franklin, 63, a former trash collector and onetime garage attendant for Los Angeles police, denied any role in the killings to investigators but didn't utter a word in his defense during his lengthy trial. Franklin's attorneys had suggested a mystery man was the real killer and asked jurors to spare the defendant's life. But Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said Franklin's motive was "doing evil," and his "degrading, calculated, and brutal" crimes had destroyed many lives. "This defendant is completely irredeemable," Silverman wrote in her sentencing brief. "He is a psychopathic, sadistic serial killer who takes joy in inflicting pain on women and killing them."