— From school dropout, to successful entrepreneur, to 114-year jail sentence
By Kenton X. Chance
When Alison Lampkin, who usually took to school the 4-year-old daughter of George “Chocolate” Franklyn and his wife, Ingrid Jack-Franklyn, turned up at their home at 7 a.m. on Sept. 13, 2011, he noted that Mr. Franklyn was dressed in a tuxedo.
Lampkin asked Franklyn where he was going and he said, “Nowhere.”
Lampkin might not have known that the Franklyns were scheduled to make a court appearance that day as part of proceedings to end their three-year marriage. Before Lampkin left to take the child to school, Mr. Franklyn asked him to pass back at the house when he was finished.
Shelly-Ann Jack, one of Jack-Franklyn’s cousins and neighbours, was on her bed that morning sometime between 7 and 8 a.m. when she heard an argument coming from the Franklyns’ home. She looked through her bedroom window, which was facing the Franklyn’s home and saw Jack-Franklyn standing in their porch.
Mr. Franklyn was standing behind her with what appeared to be blood on his face. There was an exchange of words between the couple and Mr. Franklyn slapped his wife across her face.
She slapped him back.
Mr. Franklyn ran into the house and came back with a gun in his hand. He stood about four feet behind his wife, raised the gun, and shot her to the back of her head.
Shelly-Ann Jack recalls Jack-Franklyn remaining upright for about three seconds after being shot then collapsing facedown.
The death of the 35-year-old woman was the beginning of what residents of the area described as a shooting spree that would leave one other person dead, several others nursing gunshot and stab wounds, and a then 18-year-old man, who was shot in his sleep, paralysed from the waist down.
The details of Mr. Franklyn’s crimes were outlined at the High Court in Kingstown on March 27, one week after he pleaded guilty to 17 charges, including two counts of murder, and four counts of attempted murder.
For Mr. Franklyn’s crimes, High Court judge, Justice Brian Cottle sentenced him to 114 years in jail.
However, the 47-year-old man will only serve 40 years of that time: 25 years for the murder of his wife, and 15 years for the murder of his neighbour, Marva James (also known as Hazell-Ann JamesJames), 49, both of Campden Park. From this would be subtracted the time that Franklyn has already spent in custody.
Franklyn was also sentenced to 10 years for each count of attempted murder on Sheron James, Simeon James, Esroy Lavia, and Desroy Jack, all of Campden Park.
For each of three counts of aggravated burglary — for entering the dwelling house of Marva James, Nolly Jack, and Jenifer Warren with a firearm — Franklyn was sentenced to seven years; and five years for using a firearm in the commission of an offence.
He received three years for one count of possession of four rounds of .45 ammunition.
In presenting the facts of the case, Crown Counsel Tammika McKenzie told the court that after murdering his wife, Franklyn immediately ran with the gun in his hand to the home of Nolly Jack, from where Shelly-Ann Jack had witnessed the murder.
Franklyn entered the house and Desroy Lavia, who had been sleeping on his bed, saw him run into the bedroom with the gun in his hand.
Lavia sprang up, ran down the corridor and heard two explosions behind him. He looked back and noticed Franklyn on the ground with the gun pointed at him. Lavia managed to run through the door and Franklyn pursued him into the public road, with the gun still in his hand.
Sharon James — the daughter of Hazell-Ann James, who would be killed that day — reported hearing explosions and running into the road to see what was happening.
While going up the steps, she saw Franklyn coming towards her with a gun in his hand, shouting, “Come Sharon! Come here, Sharon! Is you I want to f***ing kill.”
On hearing this, Sharon ran into her house — through the kitchen door — but was so scared that she was unable to lock the door.
Her mother was having breakfast in the porch at the time.
As Sharon ran into the house, she heard an explosion. She ran past her 18-year-old brother, Simeon James, who was sleeping in the living room.
Simeon had just returned home, having worked the night shift at a factory in the nearby Campden Park Industrial Estate.
Sharon ran into her children’s bedroom and hid under a bed, from where she heard an explosion. About 10 seconds after, she heard Franklyn leave the house.
She ran into the hallway and saw her brother in blood and her mother in the porch, in blood also.
Franklyn then went to the home of Jennifer Jack-Warren, his sister in law.
Jack-Warren was in her patio with her son, Desroy Jack when Franklyn ran into their yard with a gun in his hand.
He pointed the gun at Desroy Jack’s chest and Jack Warren heard the gun click.
But there was no explosion.
Franklyn kept the gun pointed at Desroy Jack’s chest and his mother heard another click. But, again, there was no explosion.
The woman and her son ran into their kitchen and Franklyn stood in the patio fixing the gun. He then followed them into the kitchen, pointed the gun at Desroy Jack and shot him.
Desroy Jack then ran to the accused and began wrestling with him.
Jack’s mother took up a pipe wrench and struck Franklyn several times on the hand in which he held the gun, and the weapon fell. She was able to retrieve the gun and Franklyn took an ice pick from his waist and stabbed Desroy in both hands and scraped his chest with the ice pick.
Shortly after that, the police arrived and Franklyn was handed over to them.
Police recovered a .45 semiautomatic pistol, two magazines and four rounds of .45 ammunition.
According to the post mortem report, Jack-Franklyn died of multiple gunshot wounds, including one to the back of her head, which exited at the front, and one to the left side of her abdomen, which exited to the lower left side of her back.
Marva James died of a gunshot wound to the face.
Whist Franklyn was in custody at the Questelles Police Station, the police orderly heard a banging from the cell and noticed that Franklyn was hanging from the gate in his cell.
His feet were completely off the ground and he appeared to be gasping for air.
She summoned help and Franklyn was taken to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital and was treated and discharged into custody that same day.
Assistant Superintendent of Police Kamecia Blake, a forensic psychologist, conducted an interview and a psychological examination on Franklyn on Sept. 15, 2011 and concluded that he did not show any signs of psychiatric or psychological disorders.
Police brought 24 charges against him, which were later reduced to the 17 to which he pleaded guilty.
In mitigation, defence counsel Stephen Williams noted that Franklyn had pleaded guilty to the charges and had not wasted the court’s time with a trial.
The court heard that Franklyn left the Fitz Hughes Government School at Grade 6 because his sister, who was 17 years his senior, was no longer able to provide for him, having done so since the death of his mother, when he was just 6 months old.
At age 12, Franklyn hitched a ride on a banana truck from Chateaubelair to Kingstown, where he began living on the streets of the nation’s capital.
At one time, he pushed a cart in Kingstown and would take on odd jobs in the city. But, Franklyn found out that he had a great uncle living in Murray’s Village.
The great uncle took him in when he was about 15 years old.
While living with his uncle in Murray’s Village, Franklyn enrolled in a free bartending course, which he successfully completed.
He moved on to work at Mariners Inn in the early 1990s before he was laid off six months later. Franklyn then found employment at Basil Bar No. 2, formerly the Aquatic Club.
It was while working at the Basil’s No. 2 that Franklyn’s uncle evicted him after he impregnated a woman.
Franklyn then rented a place and got financial assistance from his siblings to help take care of himself and his child. He went on to work at Basil Bar in Kingstown and Mustique, from where he moved on to work at Cotton House.
On his days off at the Cotton House, Franklyn would hang around the Mustique Company garage, and was later offered a job and went on to learn auto mechanics.
After leaving the Mustique Company, Franklyn worked at a number of places in St. Vincent before getting an opportunity to work as a sailor with Royal Caribbean International. As a sailor, he took on extra jobs on the cruise ship to make extra money.
Deported from the US
After leaving sailing, Franklyn went to work at the St. Louis Auto Auction in the United States. During this period of working the United States, Franklyn would return home frequently.
It was during one of these trips that he met the woman who would become his wife.
Franklyn would return to St. Vincent and the Grenadines for good after his US Permanent Residence Card (Green Card) expired while on a trip to Mexico, his lawyer said. He was deported when he tried to re-enter the United States after the Mexico trip.
However, iWitness News understands that the U.S. Department of Justice has told prosecutors in St. Vincent that Franklyn was arrested in Bridgeton, Missouri on April 4, 2002 for one count of felony robbery in the 1st degree and one count of unlawful use of a weapon, and one count of assault in the third degree.
He was found guilty of the charges in December 2003 and received a sentence of two years probation.
But on Feb. 21, 2005, Franklyn was arrested again, this time in St. Charles, Missouri, for one count of domestic assault in the 3rd degree.
iWitness News did not find any information on the outcome of that arrest.
On Aug. 3, 2005, Franklyn left Miami, Florida for Georgetown, Guyana on deportation order from the United States as a result of his felony status during his travels in the United States.
It is not clear why he was deported to Guyana or how he returned to St. Vincent.
However, according to his lawyer, when Franklyn came back to St. Vincent, he used his money to build a house and a mini-mart on lands belonging to his wife.
The mini-mart was quite successful and required long hours.
Williams told the court that Franklyn would work until 1 to 2 a.m. and be back in the business again by 4 a.m. or 5 a.m.
The Franklyns’ began to have marital problems and Mr. Franklyn would often “hear talk from persons in the community”. And when he went to his wife’s work place to visit her, he would also hear from various persons, talks about his relationship.
The lawyer further told the court that the talks about his marriage, coupled with the demands of running his business caused Franklyn some “stress”.
And, on Sept. 13, 2011, Franklyn confronted his wife about the talks that he had been hearing. An argument ensued and his wife struck him in his head with an unknown object, “and it was at that stage that this incident escalated that caused these several indictments,” the lawyer told the court.
Acted ‘under domestic and social stress’
Williams said the social inquiry report filed one day before the sentencing noted that Franklyn said he is sorry and feels “very terrible and disgusted about the incident and the individuals he hurt”.
Franklyn, the report said, had noted that at various times all of the victims involved had spent time at his home and he was, at one point, a mentor of Simeon James.
“So, before the incident, he was not a violent person,” the lawyer said, telling the court that Franklyn had acted “under domestic and social stress.
“He is not the most intelligent person, having left school in Junior 4,” Williams said of his client, adding that because his business was built on his wife’s land and they were going through some problems, Franklyn felt that he had worked hard in life, come from nowhere, built himself up to where he owned a business, and felt that “all would have been lost”.
“And it is under these circumstances, my lord, that I say that he was acting under circumstances of domestic and emotional stress.”
The court heard that prison authorities have described Franklyn as a popular inmate who gets along well with other inmates.
He has associated himself with Christianity and often preaches when given the opportunity to do so and sometimes counsels and mentors other inmates.
Franklyn’s only infraction in prison was the possession of a cell phone.
“But that is an offence committed against the authorities of the prison system and there is nothing in the interview with the prison authorities that says he is violent in prison,” Williams told the court.
The lawyer noted that the social inquiry report says that Franklyn has reflected on his life and hopes to be a changed person when he is released.
“The defendant appears to be a good candidate for rehabilitation and should continue the professional counsel and psychotherapy,” the report says.
The lawyer asked the judge not to impose consecutive prison sentences on Franklyn.
The most serious offence known to the justice system
In handing down sentence, Justice Cottle said he does not propose to impose consecutive sentences for the firearm charges, saying it was one firearm used on one occasion, although, technically, they are separate offences.
Cottle, however, said he did not take that same view on the murder charges.
He said the facts that the defence lawyer outlined during mitigation couldn’t detract from the fact that Franklyn committed the most serious offence known to the justice system: murder.
The judge noted that Franklyn had murdered two persons and had also attempted to murder others, and but, for surgical intervention and the Grace of God, it could have been four counts of murder.
After the sentences were handed down, Franklyn simply said, “Thank you, my worship.”