Defendant Loses Appeal for Attempted Murder, Aggravated Battery
A criminal defendant, Franklin L. Small Jr. was convicted of attempted murder and aggravated battery stemming from a domestic altercation with his wife. The court sentenced him to seven years on the attempted murder charge and another six years on the aggravated battery charge. The sentences were to run consecutively for a total of 13 years. The defendant appealed the conviction on the basis that the state never established his intent to kill. He also claimed that his counsel had a per se conflict of interest, and that the one-act, one-crime doctrine was violated in his case.
Did the state establish his intent to kill?
The allegations against the defendant were quite explicit. The prosecution alleged that the defendant cut his wife several times with a knife and stomped on her head all the while expressing his intent to kill her. If the state made those allegations in open court and (in this case) a judge ruled that the defendant was guilty of that act, then the state would have established that the defendant intended to kill his wife. His wife survived the attack and when police found her, she told them what her husband had done. The defendant was convicted on the strength of her testimony.
Per se conflict of interest
The second ground that the defendant raised for the appeal involved an accusation that their own attorney had a per se conflict of interest. A per se conflict of interest occurs when specific facts about a defense attorney’s status engender a disabling conflict. In other words, the attorney’s past or present commitments make them unfit to represent the defendant in any capacity. To raise a per se conflict of interest, the defendant would have to:
- Have a relationship with the victim, the prosecution, or witnesses for the prosecution
- Represent a witness for the prosecution
- Be a former prosecutor who tried a case against the defendant
The defendant made several allegations against his attorney. He stated that the attorney had not met with him in the 8 months prior to trial. He also alleged that his attorney had not gone over the police report. The defendant stated that he provided his counsel with a list of questions to ask and provided a list of witnesses to call. The defendant claimed other failures as well. He claimed that his attorney’s ineffective assistance of counsel directly led to his loss at trial.
The court held a Krankel hearing, which is a hearing to determine if an attorney’s misconduct led to a defendant’s conviction. The court did not find that the claims held merit nor could they establish any prohibitory connection between the attorney and any of the prosecution’s witnesses. The appeal was denied.
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