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George Franklin Trial: 1990-91

Daughter Goes To Police, Daughter Is Star Witness At Father's Trial

Defendant: George Franklin
Crime Charged: Murder
Chief Defense Lawyers: Douglas Horngrad and Arthur Wachtel
Chief Prosecutor: Elaine Tipton
Judge: Thomas McGinn Smith
Place: Redwood City, California
Dates of Trial: October 31, 1990-January 29, 1991
Verdict: Guilty (overturned on appeal)
Sentence: Life imprisonment

SIGNIFICANCE: The trial of George Franklin raised the troubling question of how far courts and juries can rely upon and trust the evidence of formerly repressed memories of traumatic events in deciding a defendant's guilt or innocence.

On January 1989, Eileen Franklin-Lipsker was playing with her young daughter, Jessica, and as the child turned toward her, a memory of another girl in just such a pose sprang into Franklin-Lipsker's mind. The memory was of her childhood best friend, eight-year-old Susan Nason, being raped and killed by Franklin-Lipsker's father nearly 20 years earlier.

Until that moment in 1989, Franklin-Lipsker had had no recollection of being a witness to this horrible scene. Now, suddenly, it came flooding back in graphic and gruesome detail. "Her hands flew up to her head," she later said. "The next thing I heard was two blows. It sounded terrible."

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994