'Grim Sleeper' Cops Trying to Taint Jury Pool With Photos, Attorney Charges


Franklin pleaded not guilty to the charges on Aug. 23, 2010, during a court appearance. He remains in custody.

Franklin's attorney, Louisa Pensanti, cricicized the release of the photos, saying it created several problems.

In a statement to ABC News, Pensanti said among the problems "is that the photographs were not part of the discovery that I have been provided with so far from the District Attorney's Office. The photographs include members and friends of the Franklin family, all now subject to the intense scrutiny of the public as well as the police."

Los Angeles police offered Franklin's wife the opportunity to view the photos at police headquarters in order to identify friends or family members, but she refused, a high-ranking official tells ABC News.

Pensanti also criticized investigqtors for comments made at a press conference, which she said were "a deliberate tainting of public opinion and the jury pool. Sadly, the public officials who have the duty to uphold the Constitution have forgotten the basics in their desire for sensationalism and are jeopardizing Lonnie Franklin's chance for a fair trial."

Determining the identity of the "Grim Sleeper," who had eluded police for more than two decades, was helped by a DNA sample taken from the suspect's son.

ABC News' Neal Karlinsky reported on a technique called familial DNA led police to Franklin in July.

Police said the DNA technique could prove more revolutionary than fingerprinting in solving crimes.

"This is a landmark case. This will change the way policing is done in the United States," Beck said at the news conference in July.

The technique may also be controversial, and likely faces legal challenges.

"This arrest provides proof positive that familial DNA searches must be a part of law enforcement's crime-fighting arsenal. Although the adoption of this new state policy was unprecedented and controversial, in certain cases, it is the only way to bring a dangerous killer to justice," said Attorney General Jerry Brown in a statement.

The familial DNA program was started by Brown in April 2008 as a way to fight violent crimes when there is "serious risk to public safety," according to the attorney general's office. California is the first state to use familial searches.

The high-profile case had languished unsolved, and had haunted the files of the L.A.P.D. cold-case unit for years.

According to the attorney general's office, the suspect's son was arrested and convicted on a felony weapons charge and swabbed for DNA last year. When his DNA was entered into the database of convicted felons, detectives were alerted to a partial match to evidence found at the "Grim Sleeper" crime scenes.

Police began investigating Franklin's son's relatives, and found a match in Lonnie Franklin. Police said he had never been a suspect until now.

The data bank, which contains more than 1.5 million samples, is the third largest criminal database in the world. Only data from convicted felons is collected, according to Brown, and a number of safeguards are taken before the Department of Justice releases the information to police.

Kilcoyne, who headed the investigation, said it was the second time a query was run for familial connections in the "Grim Sleeper" case. From the DNA matches, a tight circle of law enforcement officers zeroed in on Franklin based on the suspect's residence, location of the victims, his race and age.

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