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Man Found Guilty of Orlando Murder

An Orange County jury convicted a 36-year-old Orlando man, William Franklin, of First Degree Murder after he stabbed an Orange County attorney to death in her Delaney Park home in 2020.

Orlando Police officers responded to a home on Jasmine Avenue on August 16, 2020, just after 4am when a woman called 911 saying her adult daughter was attacked. When officers arrived at the home, they found 44-year-old Erin Hartigan dead from multiple stab wounds. According to authorities, Hartigan worked for Orange County as an assistant county attorney and lived with her mother at the home.

Within hours of the call, while police were still on the scene, officers were alerted to other scenes where potential evidence may have been left, including two bloody knives just a short distance away from the home on Jasmine Avenue.

Later that morning, around 9:30am, police dispatch received a call that said a man was seen on surveillance behind a home. Officers arrived and found the man who told them he had been swimming in the lake. Officers were able to identify the man as William Franklin, who was reported missing from Orlando Health, less than a half-mile from Jasmine Avenue, five hours earlier that morning. Franklin had fresh cuts on his hands and his shorts, which were not on at the time, were later recovered at the lake’s shoreline. He was taken into custody and transported to Orlando Police Department headquarters for questioning.

During the interview at the police station, Franklin said he had gone to Orlando Health for a COVID-19 test, but claimed the medical team gave him a drug that caused him to lose his memory. Franklin stated he was unable to recall the events of the morning from when he left the hospital until the officers arrived at the lake where they found him.

After the interview ended, Franklin later stated out loud to himself in the interview room that he “did not mean to kill that lady.” Two doctors concluded Franklin was going through a substance-induced psychosis at the time of the offense.

Further investigation revealed Franklin also made statements to Orange County Fire Rescue, Orlando Health, the Orange County Corrections psychiatrist and even several months later to his toxicologist that he voluntarily ingested “street Percocet”. However, in a recorded phone call Franklin made from jail in January 2021 after a bond hearing, he was heard saying he learned there was a big difference between voluntary and involuntary intoxication. From that point, he changed his story and said his beer was spiked at his birthday party 30 hours before the murder.

During the trial, Franklin’s defense attorney used the altered story to claim insanity by involuntary intoxication and claimed it negated the specific intent for premeditated murder. The jury heard testimony from the person who provided the Percocet, who also testified she did not “spike” Franklin’s beer at the party.

After a six-day trial, a jury found Franklin guilty of First Degree Murder with a Weapon. He was immediately sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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