PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — Five days before Christmas, the Oregon Department of Justice asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reimprison wrongly convicted murder suspect Frank Gable.
Four federal judges have now ruled that Gable did not receive a fair trial and is most likely innocent of killing Oregon Corrections Director Michael Francke in 1990. But as first reported by Willamette Week, state attorneys filed a petition to reverse the lower federal court’s rulings on Dec. 20.
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The 191-page filing argues argues the lower courts erred in freeing Gable three years ago, even though the judges considered arguments on both sides and reviewed thousands of pages of filings, including records that were not allowed into evidence during Gable’s original trial in Marion County.
Gable has always denied killing Francke and no physical evidence connects him to the crime. He was convicted and sentenced to life without parole in 1992 nevertheless.
After exhausting his state appeals, Gable appealed his conviction in federal court, where he was represented by federal public defenders. They argued the original verdict was wrong because witnesses against Gable were coerced by investigator and Gable’s attorneys were not allowed to introduced evidence that someone else had confessed to the crime with details known only to investigators before Gable was arrested.
In 2019, Portland U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta ruled in Gable’s favor, also noting that nearly all of the witnesses against him had subsequently recanted. Gable was released from prison in June 2019, but the Oregon Department of Justice appealed the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In September 2022, a three-judge panel at the 9th Circuit upheld Acosta’s ruling, writing “it is more likely than not that no reasonable juror would have convicted Gable in light of the new evidence.”
The Oregon Department of Justice had previously announced it would appeal that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. According to legal experts, the appeal could allow the conservative majority on the court to restrict the current legal grounds for overturning convictions.
Francke’s brothers Kevin and Patrick have long believed Gable is innocent and urged the Oregon Department of Justice to not appeal the lower federal court rulings.