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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Witnesses: Defendant hit victim while he was down

  • A witness testified Monday in McPherson County District Court that he saw the defendant in a murder trial strike the victim.
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  • A witness testified Monday in McPherson County District Court that he saw the defendant in a murder trial strike the victim.
    Taajon Richardson, a former McPherson College football player, testified he saw defendant Alton Franklin of Dallas backhand victim Brandon Brown with his left hand and turn to strike him in the head with his right hand.
    Richardson said he then saw Franklin strike Brown two or more times in the head once he was on the ground.
    The defense tried to discredit Richardson's testimony by pointing out inconsistencies between Richardson's testimony at the preliminary hearing and the testimony Tuesday. Richardson also admitted to lying to police the first two times he was interviewed.
    Franklin is charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder in Brown's death. Brown, a 26-year-old Tabor College football player from California, was at an off-campus party in McPherson with two other Tabor football players and a number of football players from McPherson College during the early hours of Sept. 16.
    After the Tabor students were asked to leave the party, one of the Tabor students threw a sign through the window of the home where the party was being conducted.
    The state has argued Brown was standing in the yard, watching an argument between the home's occupant and his friend, Ilai Eteaki, when Franklin made an unprovoked attack on Brown. Brown died six days later at a Wichita hospital.
    The state was not allowed to call a witness that was set to testify about incriminating statements Franklin made while both were in the McPherson County Jail. The inmate told McPherson County Attorney David Page in a letter that Franklin had told him he would have gotten away with the crime if he had not been wearing a yellow hat the night of the party.
    Defense attorney David Harger argued he had not received important information about the potential witness' criminal history until the day the trial started. Page said he had given the defense the inmate's letter a month prior to the trial and the defense had plenty of time to research public records for information to impeach the witness.
    Judge Richard Walker said the state had violated a discovery order that said the state must turn over the witness' criminal history to the defense.
    The state rested after Richardson's testimony Monday. The defense called one witness, Julius Record, who lived at 438 N. Carrie St., where the party occurred.
    Record was not at home the night of the party. He testified he saw the broken window and what was later determined to be knife marks in his front door when he came home on Sept. 16. He said the damage had not been there the night before.
    Page 2 of 2 - Witnesses have testified they heard a banging on the door to duplex the night of the party, shortly after the two Tabor students were removed from the party.
    After Record's testimony, the defense rested. The defendant exercised his right to not testify in the case.
    The defense asked for a summary judgment of not guilty after the conclusion of testimony, but the judge denied that request.
    The court also took up Monday the issue of the jury instructions. The defense was allowed to include an instruction to the jury to consider self defense.
    The state argued no evidence of self defense had been admitted during the trial.
    However, the defense argued witnesses had testified that Brown had been seen holding a knife at one point the night of the party. Several witnesses also said they were afraid of Brown based on his size, behavior and his possession of the knife. Brown was about 6'-3" and weighed 365 pounds at his death. Franklin is 5'-6" and weighed about 197 at the time of the incident.
    The jury also will be instructed to consider the lesser charge of manslaughter.
    The state and defense are set to give closing arguments in the case this morning after which the case will go to the jury for deliberations.
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