Before the Grim Sleeper serial killings in South L.A., a gang rape in Germany
The 17-year-old girl was standing alone at a station in Germany awaiting her train ride home when a car pulled up alongside her.
One of three men in the vehicle asked the teenager a question before forcing her into the car, holding a blade firmly against her throat.
“Kill you,” she recalled the men telling her.
It would be the start of an ordeal that would torment her for decades and lead her on Thursday to a downtown Los Angeles courtroom, where she recounted the attack on that night in Stuttgart in 1974. Among her three assailants was Lonnie David Franklin Jr., then a U.S. Army private stationed in Germany, prosecutors allege.
Franklin, now 63, was convicted earlier this month in the Grim Sleeper serial killer murders of nine women and a teenage girl in South Los Angeles.
The woman, addressing jurors in the penalty phase of Franklin’s capital murder case, said the car she was forced into drove off with her inside. Eventually, the vehicle pulled into a field where the men took turns raping her.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Beth Silverman asked the woman how long the attack lasted.
“The rest of the night,” she said, to gasps from the packed courtroom audience.
The woman, whom The Times is not identifying because she is a victim of sexual abuse, traveled from her home in Germany to testify in the case. As she spoke, her husband sat behind her, wrapping one arm around her on the witness stand.
Franklin, as he has for much of the trial, sat still and stared at the wall.
The attack left her with cuts on her torso from the knife, the woman told jurors, speaking through a German interpreter. After the attack, she bathed as soon as she got home, she testified.
“I felt dirty,” she said.
The next morning, she went to police. Eventually, she was able to identify her three attackers in court, she said.
In the years since, she has refused to go outside alone after dark. If she is home alone, she turns on every light in the house and stays near her guard dog, a Newfoundland.
Years later, she told her daughter about the attack and made sure the girl was always dropped off and picked up so she was never alone on the street. Her daughter, inheriting her mother’s terror, does the same with her children, the woman said.
“I pass this fear along to them,” she said.
Prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty, rested their case Thursday. Defense attorneys, who are trying to persuade jurors to return a verdict of life in prison without the possibility of parole, are expected to begin presenting their evidence in the penalty phase of the trial on Tuesday. Franklin is not expected to testify.
Prosecutors have presented evidence they say proves Franklin killed five more women in South L.A., crimes for which he wasn’t charged, using the same modus operandi seen in the 10 killings and one attempted murder he was convicted of.
In 1984, Georgia Mae Thomas, 43, was shot twice in the chest and dumped in an industrial yard.
Inez Warren, 28, was found in a Gramercy Park alleyway with a gunshot wound to the chest. Sharon Dismuke, 21, was shot twice in the chest and left in an abandoned gas station with a rag stuffed in her mouth.
Ayellah Marshall, 18, vanished in 2006. Rolenia Morris, 31, a mother of two, disappeared in 2005. Their bodies have never been found, but Marshall’s Hawthorne High School ID card and a photograph of Morris, along with her driver’s license, were found inside a garage refrigerator at Franklin’s South L.A. home. The fridge, which prosecutors have called Franklin’s “trophy case,” also contained photographs of other victims.
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