FORT WORTH, Texas, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- A former police officer in Texas was acquitted of rape charges at retrial after spending 21 years in prison following his initial conviction in 1994.
Brian Franklin, who was a member of the Fort Worth, Texas, police department, was exonerated Friday after a jury deliberated for only a few hours, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Franklin was granted a second trial after relatives of the then-13-year-old girl came forward to say she confided in them days after Franklin's arrest that she had made up the story. He was released from prison pending the outcome.
The accuser, who was the child of Franklin's friend, admitted in a hearing in 2014 that part of what she said at trial in 1994 was untrue. Still, she remained adamant Franklin raped her as a young girl.
Franklin was granted a new trial after a change in Texas law allowed retrials to be granted based on evidence of perjured testimony. Previously, appeals courts only granted retrials if it was clear prosecutors knowingly permitted perjured testimony to be given.
In addition to the accuser's admission of perjury, her step-brother testified she told him days after making the allegations that she had made up the story.
There was no DNA evidence linking Franklin to a sexual assault and defense lawyers in 1994 presented multiple alibis they said proved Franklin could not have committed the assault. Still, based on the strength of the accuser's testimony, jurors convicted him anyway.
Franklin's lawyers said they will pursue court orders expunging the charges and a judge's declaration of innocence – the first steps under Texas law financial reparations for the wrongly accused. If obtained, Franklin said he plans to sue Tarrant County for wrongful prosecution.
"I'm not the first and I probably won't be the last," Franklin said. "When the system makes mistakes, they need to admit it."