The trial for a man accused of killing a Zachary Police Officer, who was also a firefighter, is set to begin Monday morning.
Albert Jermaine Franklin Jr. is alleged to have run over Christopher Lawton using a U-Haul truck on March 12th, 2018 as Lawton attempted to arrest him. The incident took place in the parking lot of Walmart in Baker. Lawton was pinned between the truck and a grocery cart bin. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Lawton was a reserve officer for the Zachary Police Department and a full-time firefighter for the city of Zachary. He served as a volunteer firefighter at ZFD for 20 years.
Franklin, a convicted felon at the time of the incident, is facing charges of 1st Degree Murder, Hit and Run where serious injury or death occurred and simple damage to property, at his trial.
Franklin was out on bond from a November 2017 arrest on several drug and gun-related charges. His bond was set at $88,000 by a commissioner of Judge Trudy White but reduced the very next day to only $9,000 by Judge Trudy White. Franklin was able to post this bond and walk free.
District Attorney Hillar Moore told WAFB that his office was not made aware of Judge White’s bond reduction. “Judges can change their bonds, but normally, once there’s a change like that, people are notified,” Moore said.
Franklin has been in and out of jail his entire adult life. “His bond was initially set at $88,000, which is a sufficient bond to cover him and hopefully keep him in jail for the offense for which he had been charged given his past history. We were surely satisfied with that bond,” Moore told WAFB
After Franklin’s arrest for Lawton’s murder, Moore filed a motion to revoke his bond stating “The state submits that the defendant’s bonds should be revoked because the defendant has continued to commit criminal activity while released on bond. The defendant is a danger to the safety of others in the community.”
After Franklin’s arrest for the murder, Judge Beau Higginbotham, the duty judge at the time, denied his bond and added a note that he be notified if the bond is changed in any way.
He has been held at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison since his arrest.