LIVINGSTON, TX (KTRE) - LIVINGSTON, TX (Press release) - A major Corrigan cocaine dealer was removed from circulation on April 7, 2010 when a jury sentenced him to life in prison. Lawrence William Franklin, 52, was found guilty of five separate charges resulting from covert purchases from his residence in April and May, 2009.
A confidential informant purchased drugs from the residence at 407 MLK on April 21, April 29 and May 4, 2009. A search warrant was then procured and cocaine having a street value of approximately $12,000.00 was recovered from the trunk of a vehicle on the property. Also recovered from the trunk was the currency used in the purchase of May 4, 2009. Almost one-half pound of marijuana was additionally seized.
Franklin later gave a statement to Polk County narcotics lieutenant, Andy Lowrie admitting his major role in the distribution of cocaine to other dealers in the Polk County area and detailing the involvement of Claudia Criswell (his girlfriend), Loquetira Potts (his daughter) and a friend, David Hulett.
A Polk County grand jury indicted Franklin on three felony charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver, one charge of felony Possession of Marijuana and one felony charge of Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity. Potts and Criswell were also indicted for actually delivering the drugs on April 21 and 29, respectively. Hulett was indicted on two charges. Another individual whose charges are still pending was indicted.
Franklin has an extensive criminal history, including four charges for which he received prison sentences. In 1980 Franklin was sentenced to 12 years in the penitentiary for a murder charge in Harris County. Existing reports indicate that he shot a woman in the back of the head in a dispute over twenty dollars.
Further, Franklin was arrested in a series of drug charges in 1995 and 1996 in Polk and Angelina Counties. These cases resulted in a five year prison sentence as well as another five year sentence in federal court for using a firearm during the drug transactions.
Because of his previous convictions Franklin was facing a minimum of 25 years in prison on four of the charges as a habitual offender, and two to twenty years on the marijuana possession. A jury was selected in these cases on April 5, 2010 in Judge Elizabeth Coker's 258th District Court and trial commenced on April 6. Security was high in the courtroom because of previous physical and vocal outbursts by Franklin at pretrial appearances. However, the defendant was outfitted under his clothing with a remotely controlled electric shock belt that delivers a charge similar to a "tazer" gun. Franklin presented no overt behavioral problems during the trial. He did not testify and did not call any witnesses in his defense.
At the conclusion of the evidence the trial jury deliberated for approximately thirty minutes before finding Franklin guilty on all charges. A short punishment hearing was held at which the State presented evidence of the previous convictions. The jury returned sentences of 50 years, 80 years and 80 years on the charges of Possession with Intent to Deliver. A life sentence was pronounced on the charge of Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity. Franklin was sentenced to the maximum twenty years in prison on the marijuana case. The sentences will be served concurrently. Franklin will be eligible for parole after serving fifteen years. Eligibility does not insure that parole will be granted.
The charges were prosecuted by First Assistant District Attorney, Joe Martin who expressed gratitude to the jury for what he called a "courageous sentence." Said Martin, "We asked the jury to do the job the community expected of them and they did exactly that. I believe the jury saw we were dealing with a man who made his living by exploiting the weakness and misery of others. Based on his past there was no reason to expect him to change. Prior to Franklin's arrest law enforcement received a multitude of pleas from the community concerning his activities. We have answered those requests. A serious threat has been removed. Hopefully, the prison system will keep him in residence for the balance of his life."
Martin also voiced his admiration for the hard work of the Sheriff's Office Narcotics Division saying, "Unless you've been involved in this business you just cannot understand the magnitude of the work that goes into making a case like this. We have some very dedicated officers here in Polk County and I am extremely proud of the job done by narcotics officers Andy Lowrie, Howard Smith and Randy Turner."
In a separate incident, also from April, 2009, Franklin was indicted on a charge of Felon in Possession of a Firearm for an episode in Corrigan during which he allegedly shot at two Angelina County drug figures. Martin stated that due to the life sentence these charges will be dismissed.