New defense attorney takes 'Grim Sleeper' case pro bono

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Suspected killer Lonnie David Franklin Jr., dubbed the 'Grim Sleeper' for a 13-year break between his strings of 11 murders, is pictured during his arraignment in Los Angeles Criminal Courts on July 8, 2010.

A new defense attorney is representing the so-called “Grim Sleeper,” and she’s taking the case without pay.

Defense attorney Louisa Pensanti appeared in court for the first time Monday morning with her new client Lonnie Franklin Jr., the so-called “Grim Sleeper.” She told L.A. Superior Court Judge Hilleri Merritt that she plans to take the case pro bono. Merritt reminded Pensanti that it could take three years to finish the murder trial.

A short time after court, Pensanti met with reporters in front of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown Los Angeles. She declined to answer questions about her jailed client except to say he has his family's support and that he's doing fine. She also made one request of reporters.

“That you respect all of the families that are involved in this matter," says Pensanti. "To respect the legal process and to refrain from making judgments prior to all of the evidence being reviewed.”

Franklin, 57, lives in South L.A. and is an auto mechanic. Prosecutors have charged him with 10 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. LAPD detectives arrested him last month. Investigators say DNA evidence links him to a string of violent killings in the 1980s – and several more in the last decade.

Attorney Pensanti is based in Sherman Oaks. Judge Merritt gave Pensanti two weeks to prepare for Franklin’s arraignment and rescheduled it for August 23.

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