There is little to remark on about the crime Carlton Franklin committed when he was 15 save that it was a rape and murder case, which by its nature makes it depraved. The fact that Franklin managed to avoid arrest and conviction for close to four decades adds an element of shame insofar as the grief-stricken brother of the victim never lived to see her killer brought to justice.
But there is one fact of the case that makes it unique. It is that Carlton — who faces up to 20 years in prison following his conviction last Thursday for his role in the 1975 felony murder of Lena Triano — was tried in a juvenile court, as a minor. His current age, 52, makes this a first in the annals of jurisprudence.
The Newark Star-Ledger explains this bizarre turn of events. The article notes that in 1975, when the crime was committed, laws in the state of New Jersey prevented anyone under age 18 from being tried as an adult. Although the law was changed two years later, reducing the cut-off age to 13, the state penal code mandates that crimes committed prior to the change be tried according to prevailing statutes at the time of the act.
The Star-Ledger observes that Barbara Hill, the niece of the slain woman, claims that the conviction brings the family much-needed closure. She says that her now-deceased father, Triano’s brother, “had nightmares for years,” adding, “He hired private detectives. He would have been really gratified to see this day come.”
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