Florida’s Supreme Court upheld three simultaneous 1,000-year prison sentences for a man convicted of violently assaulting and raping three women 35 years ago.
The ruling means that Arthur O’Derrell Franklin, who was 17 when he committed the crimes in 1983, will in effect spend the rest of his life in prison.
Franklin’s lawyers argued he should be allowed to undergo a re-trial on the basis of a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court “Graham v. Florida” decision, which said that juveniles cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole if they have committed non-homicidal offenses, according to The Florida Times-Union. Another factor of the Graham ruling is that juvenile offenders should also be provided with “some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation,” according to the report.
The Graham ruling is based on the premise that young people differ from adult offenders in maturity levels and stages of brain development, and therefore deserve more lenient treatment.
But the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday, Nov. 8, decided by a 4-3 majority that the “Graham” case did not apply to Franklin because he is “eligible” for parole—in the year 2352. He would then, in theory, be 387 years old.
A court similarly upheld Franklin’s sentence in 2014, according to the New York Post.
Franklin was originally charged with multiple crimes in the Duval County area, including armed kidnapping, kidnapping, armed sexual battery, sexual battery, armed robbery, robbery, and aggravated assault. He has already served more than 30 years in prison.
Thursday’s majority opinion gave an overview of his crimes against the three women, and served as a reminder of the brutality of the offenses.
“In each case, the female victim testified that Franklin violently attacked her, kidnapped her, drove her to a secluded area and brutally battered, raped, and robbed her while evidencing an extraordinary cruelty and a perverse enjoyment of the suffering he was inflicting. In one case, ‘the physician who performed the sexual assault battery exam testified that the victim suffered the worst injuries the physician had ever observed,’ ” the opinion said, quoting a lower-court opinion.
The dissenting judges argued that Franklin’s case should be reconsidered to determine whether the parole process provides him with the constitutional right to “a meaningful opportunity for release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.”
Justice Barbara Pariente, who joined in dissent by justices Peggy Quince and Jorge Labarga, wrote that there was no “indication that the Parole Commission has made the constitutionally required considerations regarding whether Franklin is entitled to release based on maturity and rehabilitation.”
“At the very least, this case should be remanded to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing, where Franklin is represented by counsel, to determine whether the parole process, as applied to his case, provides Franklin the constitutionally required individualized consideration and a meaningful opportunity for release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation,” Pariente wrote, according to the report.