GUILFORD – The Chenango County couple, who was charged with the murder of their teenage son and setting their Mount Upton home on fire to cover up the alleged crime, were arraigned in the Town of Guilford Court Wednesday morning.
Ernest Franklin II, 35, and Heather Franklin, 33, were each arraigned on a felony charge of second degree murder.
The Chenango County Sheriff’s Office said that the pair has additional charges of arson and tampering with physical evidence.
During the beginning of Ernest’s arraignment, Hon. Judge Windsor asked the status of his plea at this time, to which Ernest said “guilty.” His public defender John D. Cameron quickly corrected him, and changed his plea to ‘not guilty,’ while waiving the reading of the charges against Mr. Franklin.
Heather Franklin was arraigned separately with representation by Michael E. Trosset based out of Fly Creek.
Both Ernest and Heather entered “not guilty” pleas and were remanded back to the Chenango County Correctional Facility without bail.
Chenango County’s District Attorney Joseph A. McBride represented the people in both cases.
“It is difficult, especially when you are on the outside looking in. Many, many people are asking themselves ‘how could this ever happen?’” said Chenango County Sheriff Ernest Cutting Jr. “Unfortunately, circumstance reached the point where his death was caused. And they used the fire to cover that death up.”
Officials say a fire was reported around 1:15 a.m. March 1, at the family’s home in the Town of Guilford. The couple’s son, 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin, was found dead inside.
Documents provided by the court read that Detective John Fern with the CCSO alleges that the couple killed the boy on Feb. 28, 2017, sometime in the evening hours.
According to the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office, Jeffrey was adopted approximately seven years ago. He was deaf and had special needs.
Sheriff Cutting said an autopsy determined the fire didn’t cause the teen’s death and that he was dead before the fire started.
Authorities haven’t said how the boy was killed.