It’s really hard to have faith in a system that routinely allows cops to get away with things that would see the rest of us locked up, while at the same time incarcerating innocent people over weak cases with questionable evidence. A man in Augusta, Ga., spent two years in jail for a crime he said he didn’t commit before charges against him were dropped.
According to WRDW, Maurice Franklin was arrested in 2019 and spent two years in jail for a drive-by shooting that he wasn’t anywhere near. Franklin faced 51 charges and could have been sentenced up to 1,000 years in prison if he were convicted. The fact that someone can be sentenced to 1,000 years in jail is just...why? Are we in fucking Game of Thrones or something?
Franklin credits his family for helping him get through his time in incarceration. “I had a support system that was led by my wife, that had my back. They made sure my story got out, but there are plenty of people who are sitting in a cell for something they did not do,” Franklin told the news outlet. Franklin is married with two kids and his stint in jail resulted in him missing out on multiple milestones. “I missed two birthdays, I missed two Easters, two Christmases, me and my wife’s anniversary,” Franklin said.
Robert Homlar, Franklin’s attorney, told WRDW that unfortunately it’s not unusual for him to have clients who spend prolonged periods in jail over weak cases.
“It challenges you to continue to defend the system, have faith in the system, tell people that the system is fair and right, and does what it’s supposed to,” Homlar told the news outlet. “It’s challenging because when I’m having a beer with friends, or having dinner with my wife, or watching my kids grow up in the back of my mind, Maurice Franklin is not here and not doing this stuff.”
The Innocence Project, a non-profit organization that works to free the wrongfully convicted, has said that DNA evidence in 97 of the 232 cases they’ve worked on has revealed that there were actual criminals who committed violent crimes that innocent people were incarcerated for. WRDW notes that the National Registry of Exonerations shows that 2,700 people have been exonerated for crimes they didn’t commit over the last 30 years.
Jared Williams, the current district attorney, dropped the charges against Franklin as he didn’t feel they had a strong enough case against him. No one was actually hurt in the drive-by, and cell phone evidence revealed that Franklin was seven and half miles away from the area at the time the crime was committed.
The primary evidence they had against Franklin was an alleged connection to the Crips and one of the victims at the scene of the drive-by saying they saw someone who looked like Franklin at the scene of the crime. Though, according to a statement from Williams, the witness ultimately recanted her testimony which weakened their case. “The listed victim made a number of conflicting statements which irreparably damaged our ability to prove the case,” Williams said.
Natalie Paine, the former district attorney who charged Franklin, still believes Franklin is guilty of the crime. I’m just going to assume her reasoning boils down to “What do you mean a strong enough case? He’s Black!”