Affidavit: Witnesses describe confusion, sorrow after accidental shooting that killed woman at Lawrence apartment
After Lei-Ala Turner was killed at a Lawrence apartment, the man who reportedly accidentally shot her posted this on his Facebook page:
“I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to…”
A Lawrence police detective cited the post in an affidavit supporting Willie K. Franklin’s arrest, along with descriptions of what happened from friends who were there. According to the affidavit, witnesses told police that Franklin did not mean to shoot Turner, and didn’t realize he’d done so until blood began seeping through her clothes and she fell to the ground.
The Journal-World requested and received the affidavit from Douglas County District Court on Friday.
Franklin, 27, of Lawrence, is charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, for allegedly “recklessly” killing Turner, according to charges. Franklin also is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, less than 10 years after a conviction for cocaine possession.
Turner, 30, of Lawrence, was fatally shot shortly after 11 p.m. Dec. 27 at 2310 W. 26th St., her sister’s home at the August Place Apartments in south Lawrence.
According to the affidavit, based on police interviews with her sister and two other women who were there:
A small group of relatives and friends was hanging out at the apartment planning to go out, and Franklin, among others, had been drinking and smoking marijuana.
In the kitchen, Franklin was handling a semi-automatic handgun that he’d brought.
One woman told police she saw Franklin remove the gun’s magazine — which had cartridges in it — then pull back the slide — allowing her to see that “there wasn’t a round in the chamber.” She said Franklin then let the slide come forward and pulled the trigger, and that she heard a click but no round was fired.
The woman said she momentarily turned away to take a sip of her drink, then heard a “pop.”
When she turned back, the woman heard Turner say, “Oh cuz,” while facing Franklin and holding onto him.
“Franklin was looking at Turner as if she was crazy … then pushed Turner’s hands off of him, while asking Turner what is wrong with her,” the woman told police.
Everyone then realized Turner had been shot.
Turner’s sister told police that Franklin, still holding the gun, said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.”
Franklin left the apartment, and the sister called 911 while another woman tried rendering aid to Turner. First-responders’ life-saving methods were not successful.
The scenario described in the affidavit is consistent with what Turner’s relatives told the Journal-World after her death, that Franklin had been handling the gun and mistakenly thought he’d properly cleared it before pulling the trigger. They said Franklin was a longtime close family acquaintance.
Franklin’s appointed attorney in the case, Michael Clarke, declined to comment this week in response to the allegations in the affidavit.
Franklin was arrested Dec. 31.
Following a brief mention of the Dec. 28 Facebook post attributed to Franklin, the remainder of the police affidavit provided to the Journal-World was redacted by the court.
However, the entire post, which is public, says, “I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to I can’t go back I’ll kill myself b4 I go back.”
The post is followed by dozens of comments by friends sending prayers and urging him to call them, or to call someone in his family. While a couple of the comments visible this week appeared they could be alluding to the shooting, none specifically mentions it.
Franklin was last released from prison in August, according to the Department of Corrections.
He has multiple felony convictions in Douglas County: criminal possession of a firearm and drug possession committed in 2013, and robbery committed in 2008, according to Kansas Department of Corrections records. He also was convicted of his second DUI in 2014, for an offense occurring in 2013.
Franklin remains jailed on $100,000 bond.
A preliminary hearing in his involuntary manslaughter case is scheduled for Feb. 20.