Deters determined to have role in Franklin prosecution

Friday, September 25, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters wants to personally handle the murder trial of convicted serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin.

The trial, to begin Oct. 19, falls just two weeks before the final day of Mr. Deters' campaign for Ohio treasurer.

Mr. Deters said Thursday he is interested in the high-profile case because his office has pursued charges against Mr. Franklin for more than a year, not because it will generate media coverage. If anything, he said, his involvement in the trial would hurt his campaign because it could require him to remain in Cincinnati instead of traveling around the state.

"The last thing my campaign needs to do is get involved in a murder trial," Mr. Deters said. "This case touched me a great deal. If I have a chance to try it, I want to do it."

He said a decision Thursday to delay the trial, originally set for Oct. 5, greatly improved his chances of working on the case. Even so, he said, his schedule could still be too hectic to allow it.

Common Pleas Judge Ralph Winkler granted the postponement after meeting with prosecutors and defense attorneys Thursday. The judge said both sides agreed to the delay.

"I've been involved intimately in the scheduling of this," Mr. Deters said. "It's much more probable I can try it on the 19th."

Mr. Franklin, who is linked to as many as 18 racially motivated murders around the country, is charged with the 1980 shooting deaths of two teen-age cousins in Bond Hill. Prosecutors say he used a high-powered rifle to kill Dante Evans Brown and Darrell Lane as they walked to a grocery store.

The charges against Mr. Franklin were filed last year after assistant county prosecutor Melissa Powers got a statement from Mr. Franklin linking him to the crime.

Although Mr. Franklin already is on death row in other states, Mr. Deters has said it is important to try him in Cincinnati because the victims' families want to see justice done.

Mr. Franklin could not face a death sentence here because Ohio did not have the death penalty in 1980.

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