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D.A. Seeks Death Penalty for 'Grim Sleeper' Suspect Lonnie Franklin Jr.; Alleged L.A. Serial Killer to Cost Taxpayers More Millions

Lonnie Franklin Jr., the man on trial for allegedly killing 10 women and attempting to kill one more (her survivor's tale, here), may be pleading "not guilty" to the charges -- but his lawyer seems to be the only one buying that story.

According to the Associated Press, Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman "told a court her office will ask a jury for the state's harshest sentence if 58-year-old Lonnie Franklin Jr. is convicted." Aka, capital punishment. The death penalty. Lethal injection.

Meanwhile, Franklin continues to collect fat disability pension checks from the City of Los Angeles, at about $1,700 per month...

... not that he can get very creative with the taxpayer loot behind bars. (Besides to hire a killer lawyer, no pun intended. Oh, wait -- Louisa Pensanti is working for free.)

From an August 2010 print story by Christine Pelisek, the same LA Weekly reporter who discovered the Grim Sleeper case in a mysterious back room at LAPD homicide headquarters:

By the Weekly's calculations, corroborated by a certified public accountant, Franklin has collected about $300,000. According to the Office of the City Attorney, Franklin cannot be cut off, even if convicted and sent to death row. He or his family will be paid until he dies.

If Franklin lives 25 more years, to age 82, the bite will hit $1 million.

These huge sums, and what is now alleged about Franklin, raise disturbing questions:

... Some victims were wrapped in rugs and hefted into big garbage bins, or dragged into alleys, at the same time Franklin was on city-approved "Injured on Duty" leave and being paid his full monthly salary, $2,200, to stay home.

But that's chump change compared to the cost of trying to secure a spot in line for Franklin on death row -- especially given his tendency to fight all charges with a vengeance.

A study released in June by a 9th Circuit judge and a Loyola Law School professor showed that death-penalty prosecution can be up to 20 times more expensive than a life-without-parole case. Via the Los Angeles Times:

Taxpayers have spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment in California since it was reinstated in 1978, or about $308 million for each of the 13 executions carried out since then, according to a comprehensive analysis of the death penalty's costs.

Since the original charges were brought against Franklin, the LAPD unleashed 180 photos found in Franklin's home upon the Internet, looking for more victims. In April, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck announced that detectives had linked the deaths of eight more women to the Grim Sleeper.

Pensanti, his attorney, has called the public airing grossly unfair.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]


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