The attorney for convicted racist killer Joseph Paul Franklin accused Justice Department officials yesterday of threatening to have multiple state murder charges filed against Franklin if he didn't confess to last May's sniper attack on civil rights leader Vernon Jordan.
Double murder charges were filed Wednesday against Franklin in Oklahoma City and Indianapolis in the death of an interracial couple and two black men; he also faces sentencing Monday in Salt Lake City on federal civil rights convictions in two sniper killings of black men there. The state prosecutor in Indianapolis said Justice officials asked him to file the charges.
"I'm offended by their tactics," Robert L. Van Sciver of Salt Lake City, Franklin's court-appointed attorney, said of the Justice officials. "You can be assured this thing's being orchestrated by the Justice Department. They want to solve a high-profile case, like Vernon Jordan's, which one could contend would strengthen the ties of the black minority to an otherwise distant administration."
He added that he had no intention of trying "to twist Franklin's arm" to confess to the sniper attack on Jordan, president of the National Urban League, in Fort Wayne, Ind., last May.
Daniel Rinzel, head of the criminal section of the department's civil rights division, said, "I can't comment on plea negotiations. But we have an obligation to share information with local prosecutors when information comes to our attention that indicates violations of state law."
Van Sciver said he assumed the new changes were filed on the strength of testimony by a Franklin cellmate who claimed the 30-year-old drifter boasted of shooting several blacks.