SAN FRANCISCO — A San Mateo man whose murder conviction was overturned after it was based on his daughter's 20-year-old repressed memory is entitled to a new trial, a federal appeals court agreed Monday.
George T. Franklin's conviction had been overturned by a federal judge, and on Monday the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling, citing flawed evidence. The case had gained national notoriety and been the subject of a TV movie.
Franklin, a retired San Mateo firefighter, was the first known criminal defendant whose conviction relied on repressed memory. The 1969 killing of 8-year-old Susan Nason went unsolved for 20 years until Franklin's daughter, Eileen Franklin-Lipsker, told police she had been looking at her own daughter when she recalled her father raising a rock above her friend's head.
Franklin-Lipsker was the chief prosecution witness against Franklin. His conviction was upheld in state courts but was overturned in April by U.S. District Judge D. Lowell Jensen.
Jensen's ruling cited two main grounds: that Franklin's silence in the face of his daughter's accusation was alleged to be evidence of guilt, and that jurors never saw news clippings that might have been the basis of his daughter's testimony.
Deputy Atty. Gen. Bruce Ortega, the state's lawyer, said he would consult with supervisors but doubted the case would be appealed further. The decision on whether to retry Franklin would then rest with prosecutors in San Mateo County.