Apr 13 2017
During a recent bail hearing for 33-year-old Heather Franklin and her husband, 35-year-old Ernest Franklin II, officials said the couple adopted the boy in 2012 and said there was "a very big strain on the family relationship because of Jeffrey's special needs". They have been accused of setting fire to their Guilford, NY, house in attempt to hide their crime.
McBride claimed the couple watched the film, in which main character Lee Chandler - played by Oscar-winner Casey Affleck - accidentally burns his home down, killing his three children.
This story has been corrected to show Affleck portrayed the father, not the uncle, of the children who died in the fire.
McBride said Heather Franklin, who is pregnant with the couple's child, "inexplicably left the house" and drove around until a fire intentionally set by her husband, engulfed their home with Jeffrey's body inside.
The Franklins are charged with second-degree murder, arson and tampering with physical evidence.
He argued that the defendants had watched "Manchester by the Sea", a film that tells the story of a man who accidentally started a fire that ultimately killed his children, on February 28 - two days after the movie's star Casey Affleck won the Oscar for best actor and director Kenneth Lonegran took home the Oscar for best original screenplay.
McBride told the court that there was evidence that when police arrived at the scene, Ernest Franklin "was very calm, cool, collected and pointed to the room where Jeffrey was lying", McBride told the court.
Heather Franklin left the house southeast of Syracuse that evening and drove around Chenango and DE counties and did not return until her home was engulfed in flames, the prosecutors said.
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Two hours later, Jeffrey was dead.
"It later turned out, Judge, that after the examination of the - of the victim's body, it was determined that the victim was killed before the fire and that there were no natural causes".
Cameron said the cause of Jeffrey's death is unknown and "to say he was killed is a stretch".
Trosset argued that Heather Franklin should be released on bail because she is experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, with a baby due June 18, and he said she previously had a miscarriage.
According to the Chenango County Sheriff's Office, the Mount Upton fire department and others from the area responded to the fire March 1.
Ernest Franklin's bail was set at $250,000 and his wife's at $125,000.
Heather and Ernest Franklin are now being held on bond.
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