Testimony begins in trial of man accused of killing firefighter/reserve officer; jurors see graphic crime scene
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Four years after the death of Zachary police officer and firefighter Christopher Lawton, the man accused of killing him is on trial.
Albert Franklin’s trial had been delayed and rescheduled over the years but testimony started on Wednesday, Oct. 5. Jurors saw the graphic crime scene from the eyes of detectives and heard the accounts of witnesses.
Lawton, 41, was killed while trying to serve a warrant to Franklin in a Walmart parking lot on March 12, 2018. Jurors saw where the officer was killed and heard his last words.
Detectives took dozens of pictures of the scene, including some of Lawton. Photos showed his clothes torn, along with blood and injuries to his body, which lead detective Marcus Sylvester said were consistent with being drug and run over by the van Franklin was allegedly driving.
Photos also show paint on the buggy rack that the U-Haul Franklin was driving allegedly ran into when Franklin drove away. Detectives showed that they cut off that piece of the rack to investigate the paint sample.
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Jurors also heard from witnesses, including two Walmart employees and a deputy with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. One witness, a cashier at Walmart, said she was putting groceries in her truck when she heard a tussle with the U-Haul door.
When the U-Haul drove away, she said she noticed Lawton and ran over to try to help him. The witness added Lawton said to her in his last few moments, “My name is Chris. I have a wife and kids.”
Lawton was the first police officer in the history of Zachary’s department to be killed in the line of duty.
According to the Zachary Police Department, the prosecution and defense have rested. Closing arguments are expected to begin on Monday, October 10.
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