OLYMPIA – Roy Franco could be closer to standing trial for first-degree murder for allegedly chasing down and fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend at Lattin’s Country Cider Mill in September.
Thurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jodilyn Erikson-Muldrew said she will ask a judge to enter an order finding Franco competent to stand trial. She said Tuesday that she is basing her request on the preliminary results of Franco’s competency evaluation at Western State Hospital. Erikson-Muldrew said she has requested that the court set Franco’s competency hearing and arraignment for May 18.
She declined to elaborate on the preliminary results of the evaluation. The results are sealed and unavailable to the public.
Franco’s court-appointed attorney, Robert Jimerson, said Tuesday that it is premature for him to comment based on the preliminary results of Franco’s competency exam. Jimerson said he wants to wait until he gets the complete report, which is expected to be submitted Monday.
Franco, 54, shot himself in the face after allegedly shooting Kay Langford with a sawed-off shotgun after she arrived for work at Lattin’s Country Cider Mill on the morning of Sept. 24. Until March, Franco was recovering at the Park Ridge Skilled Nursing Center in Shoreline under a court order that required him to face criminal charges as soon as he no longer was medically incapacitated.
Franco is charged with first-degree murder while armed with a deadly weapon during an act of domestic violence, first-degree assault with a deadly weapon, second-degree assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a short-barrelled shotgun.
Franco was supposed to be arraigned in March, but a public defender appearing on his behalf raised the issue of whether he was competent to stand trial, and the judge ordered a competency evaluation.
A letter sent to Erikson-Muldrew on Feb. 19 from a nurse at Park Ridge addressed Franco’s medical condition. It read, in part, “Mr. Franco has participated in therapy and has improved his ability to care for himself with minimal assistance. Mr. Franco can communicate verbally, it is difficult to understand his speech, so he uses gestures to help get his thoughts across.” The letter is part of the court record.
When Franco appeared in Thurston County Superior Court in March via a two-way video monitor from the Thurston County Jail, he was in a wheelchair and wore an eye patch.
At the time of Langford’s death, she had a new boyfriend whom she worked with at the cider mill. Erikson-Muldrew has said in court that there were three witnesses to the crime, including Cider Mill owner Carolyn Lattin, who was in the market area where Franco is accused of chasing Langford down and shooting her at close range.
Lattin, who has had a cider stand at the farm where she lives since 1956, has said that she tried to grab Franco so Langford would have a chance to get away, but he pushed her away.
Franco is in the custody of the state Department of Corrections, with bail set at $2 million.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465