Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride said during a bail hearing for Ernest and Heather Franklin last week that 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin was killed within hours of the couple watching the film on February 28, two days after it won Academy Awards for best actor and best original screenplay. (Chenango County Sheriff's Department/WBNG News via AP) This undated photo provided by the Chenango County Sherriffs Office shows Ernest Franklin.
"Within two hours of that movie playing to this defendant and her husband, Jeffrey's deceased", McBride said during Friday's bail hearing.
"The victim was badly burned", McBride said during the hearing.
An investigation after the fire revealed that Jeffrey, a special needs child who was deaf, did not have smoke or soot in his mouth, trachea or bronchi - which would have been present if he had died as a result of the fire, according to court records. Heather Franklin is being held on $125,000 cash or $250,000 bond. "Because of the damage to the body by the fire, the pathologist is not able to determine the cause of death".
The couple has been charged with second-degree murder, arson and tampering with physical evidence. However, as of Tuesday night, the defendants remained in Chenango County jail. The mother told authorities she had been running errands until 2:30 a.m. when she returned home to find the house in flames.
McBride told the judge that the circumstances and inferences from the evidence lead to "only one conclusion, that this defendant and her husband acted together and intentionally took Jeffrey's life and then started a fire to cover up that homicide".
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A NY couple has been charged with murdering their adopted son, and authorities say they may have gotten the idea from a film that just picked up two Oscars.
Heather Franklin is now in a high-risk pregnancy, her lawyer claimed at the hearing, asking that she be released. The DA says Jeffrey, adopted by the Franklins around 2012, had special needs and "was a handful".
When police arrived, McBride said "the defendant was very calm, cool, collected and pointed to the room where Jeffrey was lying, and the defendant had no physical injuries from any attempt to try to save him". Heather Franklin, like Affleck's character in the film, says she was at the store when the fire consumed the house. Ernest and Heather Franklin both claimed to be away from their house when the fire started.
Chandler is told he can't be prosecuted for the childrens' death because the fire was accidental.
He added the state was "charging her with murder without even knowing what caused the death".