Involuntary manslaughter charge filed in fatal shooting of woman at Lawrence apartment
The suspect in last week’s fatal shooting at a Lawrence apartment complex has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Willie K. Franklin, 27, of Lawrence, was arrested late Sunday night, according to Lawrence police, and made his first appearance in court Tuesday afternoon, via video from the jail.
Douglas County District Court Judge Peggy Kittel read the charges against Franklin.
If convicted, the maximum penalty for involuntary manslaughter is more than 11 years in prison, the judge told Franklin. She said the maximum penalty for the firearm charge is just under two years in prison.
Other than quiet yes and no responses to the judge, Franklin said only that his “fiancee’s family” was working on hiring him an attorney.
Kittel left Franklin’s bond at $100,000 and scheduled his next court appearance for Jan. 9.
The Lawrence Police Department’s investigation into the incident is still open, Sgt. Amy Rhoads said Tuesday.
Franklin and the shooting victim were known to each other, Rhoads said, in response to questions from the Journal-World.
However, Rhoads declined to elaborate on that relationship or answer other questions about the circumstances of the incident, citing the ongoing investigation.
The shooting that killed Lei’ala A. Turner, 30, of Lawrence, was reported shortly after 11 p.m. Dec. 27 at 2310 W. 26th St., the August Place Apartments in south Lawrence.
When police arrived at the apartment, they found Turner with a single gunshot wound to her chest. First-responders attempted life-saving measures at the scene, but Turner died from the injury.
In a news release the following morning, police said “initial information” indicated that the shooting might have been accidental and that they had identified and were looking for a suspect.
The case is considered a homicide investigation, Rhoads said. That makes it Douglas County’s 10th in 2017, according to local law enforcement agencies, the most the county has seen in a single year in at least a decade.
Franklin 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.
He was released from his most recent prison stay in August, according to the Department of Corrections.
Services for Turner are scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, according to her obituary. Friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses online at www.gofundme.com/leialaturnermemorial.