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The Grim Sleeper and the Death Penalty: Readers Respond

The Grim Sleeper and the Death Penalty: Readers Respond

Waiting for Justice

Christine Pelisek's cover story last week updated readers on the story she broke years ago — the Grim Sleeper, whose trail of brutal murders in L.A. ended only with his 2010 arrest ("Serial Killer Circus"). Now he's in jail (still), awaiting trial, and Pelisek, formerly an L.A. Weekly staff writer, is the subject of a new Lifetime movie.

Readers were riveted. Writes Samantha Streeter, "Why is L.A. still paying this bag of trash a pension? Shouldn't his pension be divided up among the victims of this murderer?

"And why is 'swift justice' not being utilized in his trial? This extended trial is really putting more pain and agony on the victims' families. For the record, I am not related to any of the victims, but I feel that this should have been over and this P.O.S. already sentenced! Stop wasting taxpayers' money."

Reader Closing King has a theory that answers that "why": "The prosecution is seeking the death penalty on a 60-year-old man who will likely never live long enough to meet his appellate lawyer. Because they are seeking the death penalty, the trial will take months longer, it will cost exponentially more money, it will take years longer before it gets to trial, and it will have a long and protracted appeals process that will cost millions extra, including a long federal habeas proceeding. Very expensive transcripts must be kept of every proceeding; these extra transcripts alone will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"I would bet that if the prosecution today were to say they are not seeking the death penalty, the case would probably be ready to go to trial within a few months. It probably would already be over by now if they had said that from the outset.

"If Franklin is convicted, he will live out the rest of his life in San Quentin, where he faces the near-certainty of dying in the exact same manner as if the prosecution had sought a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole (which is the minimum sentence). So, what's the net result?

"The DA has made the state spend millions of extra dollars. They've made the families of the victims sit around for an extra four years waiting for justice. Those families won't even get a final appeal for another 10 years or so (and if the defendant dies before his appeal is heard, his conviction will be automatically reversed!), and then there will be years more of expensive federal litigation, further roiling the families. Who has won from this? The people who are making the money, but more than anyone, the DA's office, which knows that by doing this they make everyone pissed off so they can say, 'See, it's not our fault! Look at how screwed up the system is!' "

Corrections

Last week's story about the bookstore Dark Delicacies ("Oh, the Horror!") provided the wrong name for Boris Karloff's daughter, Sara Karloff. Also, our article on the Outfest Fusion film festival ("Double Minority") misidentified the actor starring in Blackbird. He is Isaiah Washington. We regret the errors.

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The Grim Sleeper and the Death Penalty: Readers Respond