Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

George Franklin

Other California DNA Exonerations
In September 1969, an 8-year-old girl disappeared in Foster City, California.  Her body was found three months later, a few miles from her home.  Twenty years later, in 1989, Eileen Franklin-Lipsker, the daughter of George Franklin, reported that she had recovered a memory indicating that her father had murdered and raped the girl.  Eileen provided numerous details that matched details of the crime scene and, on the basis of her memory, George Franklin was arrested and charged with murder. Eileen testified at Franklin’s trial about her recovered memory.  Much of the trial focused on the reliability of repressed memory and each side presented experts.

The prosecution called Lenore Terr, a psychiatrist and professor at the University of California, San Francisco, who testified about the repression of memories of traumatic events. She testified that “a particularly hideous, violent act occurring in a childhood filled with repeated acts of both physical and sexual abuse starting at an early age, involving multiple persons, including a parental figure . . . would very likely--would probably most likely be repressed.”

The defense called David Spiegel, a psychiatrist and professor at Stanford University. He testified that that the repression of memories of traumatic could occur, but that the retrieval of false memories was also common. Elizabeth Loftus, a psychologist and professor at the University of Washington, testified that memories could be “contaminated” by “post-event information.” She also testified that there was little, if any, relationship between a person’s confidence in retrieved memories and their accuracy.

The jury found Franklin guilty of first degree murder in November 1990, and he was sentenced to life in prison. 
A district court judge overturned the conviction in 1995 based on several trial errors, including the prosecution’s argument that by refusing to respond to accusations of guilt, Franklin had in essence confessed, and the trial judge’s refusal to allow the defense to argue that the details Eileen provided about the crime were based on newspaper articles of the murder, not a recovered memory. 
While the case was awaiting retrial, Eileen Franklin's sister, Janice Franklin, revealed that Eileen Franklin's repressed memory was recalled through hypnosis. Both had testified at trial that Eileen had not been hypnotized.
Because the state Supreme Court had ruled that testimony based on memories “recovered” by hypnosis is unreliable, Eileen could have been barred from taking the stand at a new trial. 
Further, Eileen Franklin's credibility was called into question because she later contended that she remembered two more murders committed by her father: the rape-murders of 18-year-old Veronica Cascio and 17-year-old Paula Baxter. But DNA tests conducted on the rape kits in 1995 identified a male DNA profile that was not Franklin.
In July 1996, prosecutors announced they would not retry Franklin for the murder of the girl, and he was released. Franklin later filed a federal lawsuit seeking compensation, but the lawsuit was dismissed. In 2018, the DNA evidence linked Rodney Lynn Halbower to the Cascio and Baxter murders. He was convicted of both murders and sentenced to life in prison.
- Stephanie Denzel

Report an error or add more information about this case.

Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 12/21/2022
County:San Mateo
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1969
Age at the date of reported crime:30
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:Yes*