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‘Grim Sleeper’ suspect pleads not guilty

Associated Press / August 24, 2010

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LOS ANGELES — The backyard mechanic accused of being the “Grim Sleeper’’ serial killer pleaded not guilty yesterday to murdering 10 women and trying to kill one more person over the course of two decades.

The pleas were entered by a lawyer for Lonnie Franklin Jr., who spoke only to answer procedural questions in Superior Court.

Prosecutors have not decided whether they will seek the death penalty.

Franklin, 57, was wearing an orange prison jumpsuit with his hands shackled to his waist.

About 30 family members and friends of victims attended the hearing. Some were in tears as they left court.

Franklin is accused of killing the women between 1985 and 1988 and between 2002 and 2007. The 14-year pause led to the nickname “Grim Sleeper.’’

Outside the courthouse, Louisa Pensanti, a private lawyer who is representing Franklin for free, said she would assemble a team to look through more than 8,000 pages of documents provided by prosecutors.

Lawyers will focus on DNA evidence against Franklin, which Pensanti said was “not as cut and dry’’ as authorities assert.

All the women were killed within a few miles of Franklin’s home in South Los Angeles.

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