Bullets in 7 victims came from same gun, criminalist says at Grim Sleeper trial

The six slain women had lived similar lives. They were young and black, living in South Los Angeles during the 1980s. Their deaths shared another important characteristic: The bullets that killed them were fired from the same .25-caliber handgun.

All of the women are believed to be victims of the so-called Grim Sleeper serial killer, who prosecutors say was responsible for at least 10 slayings over more than 20 years in South Los Angeles.

The link between the women was detailed Wednesday as testimony continued in the trial of Lonnie Franklin Jr., who prosecutors say is responsible for the killings. He has pleaded not guilty.

LAPD criminalist and firearms expert Daniel Rubin testified that bullets retrieved from the bodies of seven women — six who were killed and one who survived — were fired from the same weapon.

Franklin's DNA was on at least two of the women's bodies, according to previous testimony.

Rubin also testified that a .25-caliber semiautomatic handgun found during a search of Franklin's home was used to shoot 25-year-old Janecia Peters, who is believed to be the final victim of the Grim Sleeper. The gun was not the weapon used to kill the other victims, he testified.

This week, several investigators testified that they found a cache of women's underwear strewn on the property of Franklin's Manchester Square home on 81st Street.

On the floor of a storage room chock-full of car parts and junk lay a pair of pink panties atop a red tool box. Inside a yellow bucket was a pair of gray underwear and a blue skirt. In a garage, lying on a white pickup truck, was a black bra. Nearby, stuffed in a plastic bag, were a camisole and pink thong.

The defense and the prosecution clashed Wednesday over whether prosecutors should have previously disclosed that an earlier witness had a conviction for attempted murder. The witness, Ray Davis, a former friend of Franklin's, testified that he once saw Franklin with one of the victims in the case.

Defense attorney Seymour Amster complained that he had never seen such an oversight by a prosecutor and called the late notification "egregious." Davis' testimony, he argued, should be stricken from the record.

Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy rejected his request, saying Davis could return to testify about his conviction.

"I know you and Ms. Silverman don't much care for each other," Kennedy said, referring to Deputy Dist. Atty. Beth Silverman.

"She doesn't matter enough," the defense attorney responded. "I feel pity for her, but that's as far as it goes."

Some in the audience gasped and others laughed.

Silverman shot back, asking the judge to silence Amster for his comments and allow her a chance to respond. Nothing improper had occurred, and Amster was engaging in pointless, personal attacks, she said.

"I don't care what he thinks," Silverman said.

Amster complained that the judge was characterizing his personal feelings toward the prosecutor, but Kennedy interjected.

"I haven't been living under a paper bag for the last five years," Kennedy said. "I have observed hours and hours and hours of your conduct, her conduct, everyone's conduct — personal attacks, raising your voice."

stephen.ceasar@latimes.com

Twitter: @sjceasar

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A version of this article appeared in print on March 10, 2016, in the News section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "One gun used in 6 killings, expert testifies" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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