52-Year-Old Tried as a Juvenile and Convicted of Murder Committed 36 Years Ago

More than three decades ago Lena Triano was found dead in her Westridge, New Jersey home. Now justice has finally been brought to the man who murdered her. He is 52 years old at present day but was tried as a juvenile given the age he was when the crime was committed.

Carlton Franklin (L) was convicted at age 52 for murdering Lena Triano (R) when he was 15. Franklin was tried under 1976 laws though, meaning as a juvenile. (Image via New Jersey Star-Ledger)

On Thursday, Judge Robert Kirsch found Carlton Franklin guilty of raping and killing 57-year-old Triano in 1976, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger. Triano’s case was only recently reopened and Franklin was pegged more concretely thanks to the more modern use of DNA evidence.

The Star-Tribune reported that Franklin would not be tried as an adult because he was 15 when the crime was committed. The laws in 1976 prevented those under the age of 18 from being tried as an adult.

The New York Times reported Franklin’s lawyer Edward Bisichio saying that because of the time gap between the crime and conviction, the situation surrounding the laws was “unusual.” It was only two years after Triano’s murder, the Times pointed out, that New Jersey changed its laws to allow those 13 and older to be tried in criminal court.

Here’s some of the debate regarding Franklin’s trial as a juvenile from the Times:

Theodore Romankow, the Union County prosecutor, objected to treating Mr. Franklin as a juvenile. “For a 15-year-old, a 25-year-old, a 35-year-old, for anyone to do something this brutal is horrific,” he said.

Alexander Shalom, policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in New Jersey, said that developments in neuroscience had reinforced the idea that juveniles had less risk perception, less foresight, less self control than adults.

“That’s not changed by long lags between crime and punishment,” he said. “Regardless of who he is today, he committed the crime as a juvenile, and when we’re trying to gauge his moral culpability, we’re looking at who he was then.”

Under those 1976 laws, Franklin could now face up to 20 years in prison with his conviction. The Times reported further that prosecutors have said under 1976 laws, Franklin’ sentence would be “indeterminate, not to exceed life.” He will be sentenced on Jan. 31, according to the Star-Tribune.

Triano’s family is thankful that justice has finally been served. Triano’s niece Barbara Hill said her father — Triano’s brother who hired detectives in an effort to catch the killer — “would have been really gratified to see this day come.”

Let us know what you think of Franklin’s trial as a juvenile for the crime he committed in 1976 by taking our poll:

(H/T: Fox News)