PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Although a federal judge has ruled Frank Gable probably did not kill Oregon Corrections Director Michael Francke, he may stay locked up while the Oregon Department of Justice appeals the ruling.
State justice department lawyers raised that possibility in a Friday, June 14 filing in the sensational murder case that now stretches over three decades. In the filing, the lawyers say that U.S. Bureau of Corrections officials are not willing to credit the nearly 30 years Gable has already served for the killing against a nine-and-a-half year sentence for an unrelated federal firearm crime.
That means if Gable is released from state custody, he could be arrested by the U.S. Marshalls Service and be immediately transferred to a federal prison to start serving that sentence, the lawyers say.
The news is a setback for Francke’s brothers Kevin and Patrick, who have always though Gable is innocent and have been arguing for his release. They recently set up a Go Fund Me account to raise money to help Gable adjust to life outside prison.
If federal corrections officials change their minds, state officials are willing to see Gable released on federal parole, provided he comply with numerous conditions, including wearing an electronic monitoring device and immediately surrendering to state authorities if the ruling is overturned.
Francke was stabbed to death outside his Salem office on Jan. 17, 1989. Gable, a petty Salem criminal, was convicted of the murder in 1991 even though he always maintained his innocence and no physical evidence connected him to the crime scene. After Gable exhausted his legal appeals in the Oregon Courts, the Federal Public Defender’s Office filed a lengthy appeal in the Oregon U.S. District Court several years ago.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John Acosta ruled that Gable is probably innocent and did not receive a fair trial on April 18. Among other things, Acosta cited a confession to the murder by Johnny Crouse, another Salem criminal, before Gable was arrested that was not allowed into evidence at his trial. Acosta also noted that many of the witnesses against Gable had recanted their testimony.
In his ruling, Acosta gave the the state 90 days to either retry or release Gable. The justice department appealed the ruling to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and requested that Acosta stay his ruling until that appeal is resolved. Gable’s attorneys moved that he be released during the appeal and be allowed to live with his wife in Lansing, Kansas, near where he is currently being held.
Acosta has set a hearing for June 26 to resolve the motions.