LOS ANGELES (KABC) --Traveling nearly 6,000 miles from Germany, a woman appeared in court Thursday preparing to tell her story to the Grim Sleeper jury Friday as it considers whether to put the convicted serial killer to death.
The woman, referred to as Ingrid W. to protect her identity, is the earliest known victim of Lonnie Franklin Jr., nicknamed the Grim Sleeper. Prosecutors, who are asking that Franklin be put to death, obtained her cooperation to show the jury more of Franklin's history.
Ingrid has told LAPD investigators that in April 1974, Franklin and two other Army privates raped her, after grabbing her off a street, forcing her into a vehicle, and driving her to a field near Ludwigsburg north of Stuttgart, site of many U.S. military outposts during the Cold War.
A German court convicted and imprisoned Franklin and his buddies for raping Ingrid at knifepoint. According to Franklin's defense attorney, who has reviewed the records, the findings of the German three-judge panel were accepted by the U.S. Army, which gave Franklin a general discharge.
"The German court was sentencing him to prison. It made more sense for the military to discharge him and for him to be punished by the German court system," defense attorney Seymour Amster said.
Prosecutor Beth Silverman has told the jury about a striking similarity between the 1974 attack and Franklin's later crimes.
He and his Army buddies took pictures of their helpless 17-year-old victim, she said.
At Franklin's home 36 years later, investigators found thousands of snapshots. Some were women whose bodies were later found dumped in South LA, officials said. Some appear to be dead in the photos. Thirty-two remain unidentified.
Amster said the jury must consider another element to the attack in Germany: Other individuals were involved. The defense theory is that other people also played a hand in the Grim Sleeper murders.
"That will be the issue that's most looked at by the appellate court," Amster said. "If they find a question mark that he was not the sole actual killer, then everything we have done is potentially reversed."
Three other family members of victims are also expected to testify during the penalty phase. The prosecution is expected to rest its case in the penalty phase as early as Friday and the defense will make its case next week.