OKLAHOMA CITY - Jury selection in the trial of an Oklahoma man charged with murdering a young boy was supposed to start Monday morning – until prosecutors announced a bombshell additional count.
The defendant, Tulsa dentist Bert Franklin, is now accused of plotting the murder of the child’s mother from inside the Oklahoma County Jail where he’s being held without bond, according to KFOR.
Franklin was dating the woman in Oklahoma City in July of 2016 when 19-month-old Lincoln Lewis was killed.
Doctors said he had a skull fracture and brain bleeding that were consistent with abuse.
Prosecutors showed a home surveillance video at Franklin’s preliminary hearing. They said it showed Franklin slamming the baby to the ground and repeatedly kicking him, however KFOR reports that much of that action was hard to tell from the angle of the camera.
The video allegedly shows Franklin holding the limp baby in his arms as he goes into the kitchen to get a piece of pizza.
Now, prosecutors say Franklin paid another inmate in the county jail to murder Lewis’ mother.
"Obviously, the allegations are salacious as hell and they bother me deeply," said Franklin’s attorney, Scott Adams.
Adams had no idea about the new charge until he showed up to court Monday morning to begin jury selection in the murder trial.
"Stunned. Literally stunned. Again, I talked to my client. He denies he did any of it. Swears up and down that he was being threatened in the jail and he didn't have anything to do with wanting to get Ms. Randall killed," Adams said.
According to court documents, a confidential informant inside the jail told an investigator with the district attorney’s office that “Franklin approached him regarding the possibility of killing a witness in the murder case against Franklin.”
Prosecutors allege Franklin had his wife transfer $300 into another inmate’s account for this purpose. Then, just one day before his trial was set to begin, Franklin allegedly laid out the details in a phone call recorded at the jail.
Court documents said “Franklin provides the locations of security cameras around her home, including a camera on the side of the house. Franklin discusses the presence of a large dog…”
His attorney said this leaves him with a lot of questions about the confidential informants.
"Why were these particular people in his jail cell? How did they get there? What type of benefits were they getting from the government to make these allegations?" Adams said.
Adams said it might not mean very much Franklin put money in another inmate’s account.
"These scams happen all the time with inmates and they're getting threatened. 'If you don't put money on my book, I'm going to beat you up. If you don't put money on my books, I'm going to threaten your family,'" Adams said.
Adams said he has not yet listened to the recorded phone call.
The prosecution has indicated they would like to try the two charges together.
Franklin is expected to be arraigned Tuesday on the new charge of conspiracy to commit murder.