LA serial killer sentenced to death for 3 murders

June 22, 2012 - 6:55 PM
Southside Slayings Trial

Convicted Serial killer, Michael Hughes is shown in court Friday June 22, 2012 in Los Angeles. Hughes was sentenced to death Friday for strangling a 15-year-old girl and two women in the Los Angeles "Southside Slayer" attacks. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A convicted serial killer was given a death sentence Friday for strangling a 15-year-old girl and two women in the Los Angeles "Southside Slayer" attacks of the 1980s and 1990s, according to prosecutors.

Michael Hughes, 55, was convicted last November of killing his victims after DNA evidence tied him to murders authorities say were committed for sexual gratification.

Hughes was convicted of killing 15-year-old Yvonne Coleman, 36-year-old Verna Williams and 32-year-old Deborah Jackson between 1986 and 1993. Williams and Jackson were prostitutes.

His victims were strangled and some of their nude bodies were posed for discovery with their legs spread in order to shock whoever found them, prosecutors said.

Hughes already is serving a life sentence for killing four other women.

He was convicted in the 1992 murders of Theresa Ballard, 27, and Brenda Bradley, 37, who was the niece of the former mayor; and the 1993 killings of Terri Myles, 33, and Jamie Harrington.

Hughes, a former security guard, was investigated by a task force looking into the killings of dozens of women in the 1980s and 1990s by the so-called "Southside Slayer."

Police later concluded at least three serial killers, including Hughes, were stalking women during a crack cocaine epidemic that led some women onto the streets as prostitutes in order to support their habits.

Pizza deliveryman Chester Turner was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to death for killing 10 women, one of them pregnant, in the 1980s and '90s. He has been charged with four additional killings and ordered to stand trial.

Investigators also arrested Lonnie Franklin Jr., a South Los Angeles mechanic, last year as part of the "Grim Sleeper" slayings. He has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of murder and one attempted murder charge.

Prosecutors suspect Franklin shot or strangled 10 women and girls between 1985 and 2007, dumping their bodies in alleys near his home.