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FRANKLIN v. STATE

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Court of Appeals of Georgia.

FRANKLIN v. The STATE.

No. A15A2180.

Decided: February 02, 2016

James C. Bonner Jr., Tyler R. Conklin, Attorney for Appellant. Joshua Daniel Morrison, Paul L. Howard Jr., Attorney for Appellee.

Following a trial by jury, Charles Franklin was convicted of rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, false imprisonment, and the false report of a crime. Franklin's sole contention on appeal is that the trial court erred in failing to sua sponte give an instruction on mistake of fact. For the reasons set forth infra, we reject this contention and affirm.

Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's guilty verdict,1 the record reflects that at approximately 8:00 a.m. on April 13, 2010, the victim, Franklin's then-wife, met him at a rental home that was the subject of a dispute between the newly separated couple. When the wife arrived, Franklin invited her inside and showed her over to a credenza to review and sign some paperwork related to the property. But as the victim bent over to sign the paperwork, Franklin struck her in the head from behind with a metal baseball bat. He then proceeded to beat the victim's head, arms, and body, before dragging her bloodied body into the dining room, propping her against a wall, and brandishing a handgun at her.

When the victim raised an arm to shield herself, Franklin struck her yet again, picked her up off the floor, and then moved her into a bedroom around the corner. Once there, Franklin proceeded to bind the victim's arms and legs to the posters of the bed with a belt, duct tape, and wire. The victim was able to retrieve the bat and swing it at Franklin, but he wrested it from her and beat her once again about the head and abdomen. Franklin then used a box cutter to remove the victim's clothing, lacerating her leg in the process, and then undressed. Thereafter, Franklin repeatedly raped the victim, and at one point anally sodomized her, until approximately 3:30 p.m. When Franklin was not raping the victim, he was yelling at her about her “failures” as a wife and mother, and the victim observed that the handgun was in the room during the entire harrowing ordeal.

At some point after Franklin had severely beaten the victim and bound her to the bed, she decided to stop resisting in an effort to calm Franklin and persuade him to untie her. She first asked him to untie one of her arms that had become numb and swollen, and then she requested that he untie her legs under the guise that intercourse would “be easier.” Over the course of the day, Franklin began to suggest that the two of them should again be together as a couple, to which the victim-who was panicking because she had lost a lot of blood from the gash in her head-agreed. She then requested that Franklin administer medical aid and agreed to go along with a home-invasion story that Franklin concocted in order to receive treatment for her injuries.

Subsequently, Franklin placed a band-aid on the victim's injured leg, hid the various implements that he had used in the attack, kicked in the backdoor to make the scene look like a home invasion, and called 911 to report that he had just returned home to see two men fleeing the house after sexually assaulting his wife. When law enforcement arrived and the victim was finally able to speak with an officer alone, she informed him of what had really occurred, and Franklin was immediately placed under arrest. Following trial, Franklin was convicted of the offenses enumerated supra.2 This appeal follows.

As previously noted, Franklin's sole argument on appeal is that the trial court erred in failing to sua sponte give an instruction on mistake of fact. We disagree.

To begin with, it is true that the trial court must “charge the jury on the defendant's sole defense, even without a written request, if there is some evidence to support the charge.”3 And with respect to “mistake of fact,” which is an affirmative defense, a person “shall not be found guilty of a crime if the act or omission to act constituting the crime was induced by a misapprehension of fact which, if true, would have justified the act or omission.”4 Additionally, because mistake of fact is an affirmative defense, even if it was not Franklin's sole defense, if the defense was raised by the evidence,

the trial court would have been required to present the affirmative defense to the jury as part of the case in its charge, even absent a request. The affirmative defense, however, would not have to be specifically charged if the case as a whole had been fairly presented to the jury.5

But importantly, our Supreme Court has previously held that, in cases in which a jury finds a defendant guilty of forcible rape after proper instruction, “[t]he element of force negates any possible mistake as to consent,”6 such that the court does not err by failing to charge on mistake of fact.7

A person commits forcible rape when “he has carnal knowledge of[ ] ․ [a] female forcibly and against her will[.]”8 And a person commits aggravated sodomy when he or she “commits sodomy with force and against the will of the other person․”9 Here, mistake of fact was not Franklin's sole defense to these charges, as he claims on appeal. Instead, the record reflects that Franklin, who did not testify in his own defense, attempted to show that intercourse with the victim was consensual, not that he mistakenly believed that it was consensual.

Indeed, a detective who investigated the case and interviewed Franklin testified that Franklin maintained that he did not rape the victim because either he and the victim engaged in consensual intercourse prior to her attack by two unknown assailants or, in the alternative, that he and the victim willingly engaged in “kinky” sex after a domestic dispute during which he struck the victim. And in closing argument, Franklin's counsel repeatedly argued that the State failed to prove that the intercourse was not consensual and suggested that the victim had fabricated and orchestrated the entire encounter to exact revenge upon Franklin for problems in their relationship. In contrast, on appeal, Franklin focuses on testimony by the victim that Franklin might have believed the intercourse was consensual when she feigned interest in order to diffuse the situation and survive the attack.

However, although the victim suggested that Franklin might have believed that the intercourse was consensual, she also unequivocally testified that she was in fear for her life, she acted as she did to prevent Franklin from killing her, she did not want Franklin to think she was going to attempt an escape, and the only message she was trying to convey was that she did not want to fight him any further. The victim further testified that if Franklin “doesn't think he's raping me, if he thinks it's fine, then something is wrong with him. I'm sitting on the bed bleeding and he's cutting my clothes off and he's thinking that this sex is consensual.” Finally, the investigating detective also testified that the victim told him she had been instructed in a self-defense class to “kind of go along with it” to ease any tension with an attacker, but that she had not wanted to engage in intercourse or anal sodomy and was instead “just trying to stay alive.”

The defense of mistake of fact, then, was not reasonably (or even remotely) raised by the evidence when the victim's physical resistance ended and her demeanor changed after being brutally beaten with a baseball bat, threatened at gunpoint, dragged bleeding through a house, ruthlessly bound to a bed, beaten with the bat again after resisting, and lacerated with a box cutter while her clothes were forcibly removed, all while Franklin kept a handgun nearby and repeatedly verbally berated the victim.10 Indeed, as our Supreme Court has recognized, a lack of resistance that is induced by fear is not legally cognizable consent but instead constitutes force.11 And here, because the jury was otherwise properly instructed,12 and found Franklin guilty of forcible rape and forcible aggravated sodomy, the element of force negated any possible mistake as to consent.13

Accordingly, for all of the foregoing reasons, we affirm.

Judgment affirmed.

DILLARD, Judge.

ELLINGTON, P. J., and McFADDEN, J., concur.

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