An inmate at the Oklahoma County jail, accused of killing a toddler, approached other inmates with a question, according to court records: Would it be possible for him to hire a hitman to kill a witness in his case?
The answer was yes, the other inmates told Bert Franklin, a Tulsa, Okla. dentist who was in the jail awaiting trial, according to KTUL. Franklin had been charged with murder after police said he brutally killed his mistress Roxanne Lewis Randall’s 19-month-old son, Lincoln, in Oklahoma City in July 2016.
Franklin wanted the hitman to kill his former mistress next, court records said. Prosecutors said that Franklin’s goal was to prevent Randall, the child’s mother, from testifying against him at his trial this month, the Oklahoman reports.
After the inmates told Franklin that a former inmate could kill the woman, Franklin used a cell phone that had been smuggled into jail to give “step-by-step” directions to the woman’s house, court records said, according to KTUL. Franklin even offered up tips on how to stay clear of security cameras in the house, records said.
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But what Franklin didn’t know was that the other inmates he thought he was plotting with were actually confidential informants, according to court records reviewed by KTUL. Now, Franklin faces charges of conspiracy to commit murder in addition to the murder charge in connection with the death of 19-month-old Lincoln.
The confidential informants had been working with law enforcement in unrelated cases when Franklin allegedly approached them in August to ask about “the possibility of killing a witness in the murder case, The Oklahoman reports.
Franklin has pleaded not guilty to the murder charges, and denied the conspiracy charges through his lawyer, NewsOn6 reports.
“We’re just trying to get to the bottom of it,” Scott Adams, Franklin’s defense attorney, told NewsOn6. “Mr. Franklin swears up and down he didn’t have anything to do with it, he didn’t want anything bad to happen to Ms. Randall.”
But according to court documents, Franklin used the jail’s communications channels to ask his wife to transfer $300 into the account of another inmate to pay for the murder, KTUL reports, telling his wife it was needed for “spiritually related reasons.”
Investigators told the TV station that they think Franklin’s wife likely did not know what Franklin was trying to do with the money, according to NewsOn6.
Franklin had been denied bond at a court hearing last year, KFOR reports, with the judge calling him a danger to the community.
Surveillance video taken from Randall’s house shows Franklin kicking and slamming the toddler around, prosecutors said. But Franklin’s attorney has said the action shown on video is Franklin responding to a dog in the house, not the toddler, KOCO reports.
Video shows Franklin getting pizza right after the attack occurs, according to KOCO, while holding the unmoving child in his arms.
Randall told police that when she next saw the child, he was positioned on the couch surrounded by pillows, KFOR reports. Franklin told her the child was sleeping, she said.
After putting the child to bed, Randall said she didn’t notice that the child was injured until 2 a.m. the next day. That’s when the mother tried to wake up Lewis for a bottle, she told police, KFOR reports.
The baby was taken to the hospital, but died of a skull fracture and subdural hematomas, KFOR reports. Franklin was arrested on first-degree murder charges in connection with the death.
Franklin and Randall had been seeing each other for about a year before the child’s death, KOCO reports.