Crime & Justice

'Grim Sleeper' suspect assaulted in county jail

A photo of
A photo of "Grim Sleeper" serial killer suspect Lonnie Franklin Jr. after being booked following his July 7, 2010 arrest.
Frank Stoltze/KPCC

The man accused of being the Grim Sleeper serial killer was assaulted in the County Jail by another inmate while they were in an attorney waiting room, deputies said.

Updated 7:25 a.m.

Lonnie David Franklin Jr., 57, was recognized Friday by Antonio Rodriguez, who the day before had been convicted of sexually assaulting and killing a 5-year-old girl, a sheriff's deputy testified Wednesday.

Deputy Benjamin Grubb of the Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau confirmed the account.

Rodriguez, 29, had just finished meeting with his attorney, and was being uncuffed from his seat, when he broke away from the deputy and punched Franklin twice in the head, according to Deputy Ignacio Gracia of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Franklin, who was arrested July 7 and is suspected of raping and killing at least 10 women in and around South Los Angeles over more than two decades, was seated near Rodriguez in the attorney meeting room and was handcuffed to his seat when Rodriguez struck him, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

Gracia, who restrained Rodriguez after the blows, said the attack appeared to be unprovoked. Rodriguez apologized to Gracia after, the deputy testified.

"I was shocked," Rodriguez's attorney, Robert A. Schwartz, was quoted by the Daily News. "I think he may have scored some credibility points with the other inmates."

Franklin and Rodriguez are both "K-10" or "high-powered" inmates, which means they are kept away from the general prison population because of the notoriety of Franklin's alleged crimes and because of Rodriguez's tendencies toward violence, the Daily News reported.

Rodriguez, 29, said he felt "he had to" attack Franklin based on allegations that the 57-year-old man raped and murdered almost a dozen women, Schwartz said.

The testimony about the alleged attack came during the penalty phase of Rodriguez's trial as the prosecution seeks the death penalty.

"This is one of the reasons why notoriety in our jails can be a very challenging aspect," Steve Whitmore of the Sheriff's Department told the Los Angeles Times. "That's why we keep inmates away from each other."

This story incorporates information from the Associated Press.