In 1976, 57 year old Lena Triano was found dead in the apartment where she lived alone in Westfield, New Jersey. She was the victim of a grisly murder where she was sexually assaulted, hog tied, strangled, and stabbed to death. Her murder remained a mystery until the Union County Cold Case unit matched DNA that was found at the scene with that of Carlton R. Franklin, a man who spent nearly twenty years in prison after being convicted of burglary and kidnapping. Once Franklin was identified, it was discovered that at the time of the murder he lived directly behind the victim’s home.
The fascinating part of the case is that the 51 year old defendant is being tried as a minor in juvenile court. He was just 15 years old at the time of the murder and the law at the time mandated that only juveniles of at least 16 years old may be tried as an adult.
The arguments in the case have come to a conclusion and now it is up to the sitting Juvenile Judge to determine if the State proved Franklin’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Typically in New Jersey, juvenile trials are determined by a judge alone and not a jury. The defense argued that the DNA evidence only puts him at the scene of the crime and does not at all prove that he committed the murder. The State argued that the physical evidence indicates that the victim was sexually by the defendant after she was already physically attacked and stabbed.
Regardless of the outcome, Franklin’s case is interesting on many different levels and is sure to be appealed if he is found guilty.