A college professor was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder...


LOS ANGELES -- A college professor was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in the death of a young man who was shot in the head and then dismembered with a chain saw.

Max Bernard Franc, 57, waived his right to a speedy arraignment, which was rescheduled for next Wednesday.


Franc spoke only a few words during his brief appearance before Municipal Court Judge Michael Harwin, identifying himself and saying, 'Yes,' when asked if he agreed to the continuance.

Prosecutors charged the Cal State Fresno public administration professor with first-degree murder in the slaying of Tracy Leroy Nute, 18, identified Wednesday by sheriff's deputies as a runaway from Kansas City, Mo.

Deputy District Attorney Sterling Norris said the motive for the slaying was 'a combination of homosexual rage and robbery.'

Franc, a native of Wisconsin, had denied committing the slaying, telling Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators that 'another party' killed the young man, who authorities say may have died in a West Hollywood apartment rented by the professor. Nute was shot in the head before his body was dismembered.

The remains of the young man, who Norris said apparently worked as a prostitute in the Hollywood area, were found last week.


Nute's head and torso were found last Tuesday on a rural road about 20 miles north of Fresno. Two days later, his arms and lower legs were found by a rancher near the Golden State Freeway in the Los Angeles suburb of Valencia.

Two special-circumstance allegations -- robbery during a murder and committing a slaying that 'was especially heinious, atrocious, and cruel' -- were filed with the murder charge. If the allegations are upheld, Franc could receive either the death penalty or prison without parole upon conviction.

Outside court, Norris said that despite police reports Franc may have had an accomplice, the district attorney's office was proceeding on the assumption he acted alone.

'If we had a second suspect, we would have filed charges against him,' Norris said.

Fresno police told sheriff's deputies that Franc, who was arrested Saturday, denied killing Nute and claimed 'another party' was involved.

Authorities said they found Franc's home in Fresno stuffed with homosexual pornography -- books, magazines and videos -- and evidence that he was building a sound-proof room.

Franc, on the university faculty since 1969, was on sabbatical leave this semester. His family and colleagues described the lifelong bachelor as a gentle and highly respected intellectual.


The Fresno Bee said in a story published Wednesday that some of Franc's former students have been calling law enforcement authorities to say that Franc propositioned them.

Another of Franc's former students told the newspaper he filed a sexual harassment complaint with the university's Political Science Department last year.

FSU officials denied Tuesday that they have ever received a sexual harassment complaint against Franc.

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