Summary of Offense:
While Franklin was serving a ten-year sentence for robbery, he was granted a conditional release on October 1, 2001. About two months later, on December 18, 2001, Franklin initiated a ten-day crime spree that began with the kidnapping and killing of pizza delivery man John Horan. On December 27 or 28, Franklin and the Pamela McCoy robbed and assaulted Alice Johnson in her home. Franklin stole her car and drove it from Leesburg to St. Petersburg to visit family. Upon returning to Leesburg, he stopped at the Elberta Crate and Box Factory and asked for directions from the security guard, Jerry Lawley. On December 29, Franklin returned to the factory and again encountered Lawley. Franklin forced Lawley out of his car onto his knees and shot him once in the back. Franklin searched Lawley’s pockets and car but did not find anything of value, so he fled to St. Petersburg. Lawley managed to get help from a company truck driver, Edward Ellis, who was on the company’s grounds. Lawley told Ellis that he had been shot by a tall black male wearing a knit cap and driving a newer model blue car. Ellis called 911 and gave this information to the responding officer.
In St. Petersburg, on December 30, a police officer came upon a late model blue Toyota Camry where Franklin--who was wearing gloves--and McCoy were sleeping. Upon searching the car, the officer found a revolver and a black knit cap. Franklin admitted to shooting Lawley because he “wanted to.” While waiting for trial, Franklin contacted a newspaper reporter and made incriminating statements about his involvement in Lawley’s murder. These statements, along with ballistic evidence linking the revolver found under Franklin’s seat to the bullet that tore through Lawley’s body, were used to convict Franklin of first-degree murder and attempted robbery.
Franklin was sentenced to death in Lake County on June 3, 2004.
Pamela McCoy, 13 years old at the time of her crime, was sentenced to 35 years for attempted armed robbery and principal to second-degree murder. This crime occurred during Franklin’s ten-day crime spree in Lake County.