HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles has set a Sept. 20 parole hearing for Jeffrey Franklin, who was convicted of the 1998 murder of his parents and the attempted murder of three siblings in south Huntsville.
Franklin, 36, was convicted in 2001 and sentenced to five life sentences. Under Alabama law, an inmate can become parole-eligible after serving 15 years of a life sentence, but that does not signal a grant of parole is likely. Alabama Department of Corrections records show Franklin is currently incarcerated in the Bullock Correctional Facility.
Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard prosecuted Franklin. He opposes parole for Franklin.
Franklin, who was 17 at the time of the murders, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.
Mac McCutcheon, was the Huntsville Police Department investigator who handled the Franklin case. He described what took place in the family’s home in south Huntsville on March 10, 1998.
McCutcheon said based on the crime scene, Franklin killed his mother, Cynthia, first, stabbing her with a “rat-tail file.” He then attacked his sister, who was 14, with a hatchet, slashing at her throat and clubbing her.
His father, Gerald Franklin, was attacked with a sledgehammer as he entered the house. Franklin’s two younger brothers, around ages 9 and 6, were then attacked, both had wounds to their throat and head injuries, apparently from the hatchet.
A neighbor girl was stopping by for a visit, when she spotted Franklin coming out the back door, with blood on him, McCutcheon recalled. She ran home and the police were called.
Franklin was spotted later that night at Ditto Landing. He led police on a brief chase before crashing in a family’s yard in south Huntsville.
McCutcheon said Franklin was shirtless and had upside down cross markings on his torso when he was brought in for the interview.
McCutcheon said as part of the investigation, he learned that Franklin had likely been up for three days before the killings. Franklin had also been part of a group of teens who were abusing the Ritalin they’d been prescribed. Franklin had been given Ritalin to help control an attention deficit problem, but his dosages had been increased a number of times, according to his attorney.
Robert Tuten, who represented Franklin in the run-up to his scheduled trial, said Franklin was abusing Ritalin, snorting three or four pills at a time. Franklin’s mother kept the pills in a lockbox, but Tuten said Franklin had figured out how to take out the hinge pins, remove the pills and replace them with saccharine tablets without his mother noticing.
Tuten said a blood test done 12 days after Franklin’s arrest showed 10 times the normal dose of Ritalin. Tuten said the Ritalin was a major factor in the crime.
DA Broussard said he’s familiar with the Ritalin argument.
“You hear, ‘Ritalin abuse -- that produced this horrible result,’” Broussard said. And I’ve pondered it for 25 years, and I will admit that certain substance abuse will exacerbate what is residing in somebody.”
He said it’s not common to see drug abuse produce the results seen in the Franklin case.
“But I will admit I think it, I think it kind of greases the skids, so to speak,” Broussard said. “When somebody is, when somebody of that nature is amped up on something, it’s a, it’s a bad deal. It’s a powder keg.”
In a 2013 letter to then-Madison County Judge Loyd Little, who sentenced Franklin, Franklin asked that he be given credit for the three years he’d spent in the Madison County Jail, as the court had originally ordered. The credit would move up his parole hearing date, Franklin wrote.
He added a post-script to the letter.
“I’m not really a bad man,” he wrote. “I didn’t mean to do what I did. It just happened. I have a hard time.”