OKLAHOMA CITY — A Tulsa dentist has been convicted of first-degree murder for killing a toddler.
A jury has recommended Bert Franklin serve life without parole for killing 19-month-old Lincoln Lewis in July 2016. Lewis was the son of Roxanne Randall, a woman he was having an affair with.
The jury also recommended life in prison after finding Franklin guilty of solicitation. Prosecutors say he plotted to hire someone to kill Randall while he was in jail.
"Judge Roxanne Randall if you want to," Oklahoma County Assistant D.A. Gayland Gieger told the jury during closing arguments. "Did she do wrong? Yes, but it doesn't change the facts of this case."
The trial last for nearly two weeks, during which several witnesses were called to the stand including Randall, investigators, and medical experts. Jurors were also presented evidence including home surveillance and recorded conversations from a phone smuggled into the Oklahoma County jail for Franklin.
Prosecutors for the state told jurors Thursday morning during closing statements, the most important piece of evidence they had to consider was Lewis himself. In video of home surveillance, Franklin is seen making a kicking and throwing motion.
Shortly after, he is shown carrying the toddler.
"The limp body tells the whole story," prosecutors said.
Franklin's attorney, Scott Adams, argued his client was kicking a dog not the child.
During trial, Adams presented a pediatric neurologist as the defense's witness. The physician admitted to having been paid to review Lewis' CT scans and testified there was no way to tell whether his injuries were accidental or abuse from the scans alone.
The testimony followed prosecution witnesses, including other physicians. One testified Lewis' head injuries included the "worst fracture he's ever seen", adding his injuries were comparable to "an unrestrained child in an accident" rather than falls.
They said Lewis' injuries could not have been sustained accidentally or inflicted upon himself.
Shortly after the verdict was delivered Thursday afternoon, Gieger called the victory the result of a hard-fought case.
“The jury has heard this evidence. The evidence, in our opinion was overwhelming of his guilt. it’s hard to fathom a man who could do what he did to this little baby and then coldly, calculatedly plan to solicit the murder of this child’s mother,” Gieger said.
Cameras were allowed inside the courtroom as Judge Cindy Truong read the verdicts. Franklin sat, stone-faced before he was taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
“Without a doubt it’s a testament to the dedication of the men and women of the Oklahoma City police department, the detectives who worked this case who worked tirelessly, to track down every piece of evidence there was. They went above and beyond, clearly the doctors at Mercy Hospital. the doctors at St. Francis Hospital and the doctors at Children’s Hospital consulted us on this case, are a testament to our community,” Gieger said.
Formal sentencing is set for October 19.