Convicted child rapist appeals, maintains innocenceA Mitchell man sentenced to 60 years in prison for raping a child has filed an appeal, claiming his constitutional rights were violated during his trial.
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
A Mitchell man sentenced to 60 years in prison for raping a child has filed an appeal, claiming his constitutional rights were violated during his trial.
Larry James Franklin, 58, was sentenced in 2009 to two consecutive 30-year prison terms for two counts of raping a victim younger than 13 in 2007.
Franklin, an inmate at the South Dakota State Penitentiary, filed his petition for a writ of habeas corpus March 1 with the Davison County Clerk of Courts. A writ of habeas corpus is a legal action through which a prisoner may be released from unlawful detention if an error is found with his or her original trial. It is usually the last opportunity for a prisoner to appeal a conviction.
Franklin claims his constitutional rights were violated due to ineffective assistance from legal counsel during his 2009 trial in Mitchell.
Franklin was represented by attorney Chris Nipe, of Mitchell.
In his petition, Franklin wrote he “did not have any objections” to Nipe prior to the start of the trial, but claimed “as soon as the trial started, (Nipe) started to agree with the state’s attorney and then the trial court as well.”
He went on to write that Nipe failed to object to what Franklin described as the “inflammatory” and “unspeakable” things told to the jury by the prosecution, and claimed none of the evidence presented against him was true.
“All they had was a story from a little (victim),” Franklin wrote.
He claims his rights were violated further when the court did not allow psychiatric reports of the victim and the victim’s mother into evidence.
Franklin maintains his innocence throughout his petition, claiming the victim only made the accusations to get away from the victim’s family in an effort to be put into foster care in Mitchell.
“You can convict an innocent man and take his life away, but you can’t defeat him if he won’t let you,” Franklin stated near the end of his petition.
Franklin’s petition was reviewed by Circuit Court Judge Steven R. Jensen, who found it sufficient to issue a provisional writ of habeas corpus. Once a copy of the writ and petition is served on both the warden of the state penitentiary and the state’s attorney, a hearing will be scheduled to determine the merit of the petition.
According to Davison County State’s Attorney Pat Smith, a reversal of judgment based on a habeas corpus petition is a rare occurrence, but if it is granted, a case goes back to pretrial status and a retrial would take place.
Until earlier this month, state law placed no limit on the number of times an inmate could file a habeas corpus petition, but a recently passed law now limits it to one such appeal, unless new evidence is discovered or an appeals court finds a new constitutional right applies to the case.
The appeals limit was signed into law by Gov. Dennis Daugaard on March 2.