Mistrial in murder case came in fourth trial for man

URBANA, Ill. (WAND) – A fourth murder trial involving an Urbana man ended in a mistrial ruling.

The News-Gazette reports a jury in Champaign County talked for nearly 13 hours in two days before announcing it failed to reach a unanimous decision in the case of Tyrone Franklin Jr., 25. Franklin is accused of shooting and killing 21-year-old Robert Lee Brown on Nov. 26, 2016.

The newspaper says that shooting came on a night where dozens of people came together to honor 22-year-old Zachary Gray, who someone had gunned down in Urbana on Nov. 10, 2016. There were no arrests the case of Gray, who is Franklin’s half-brother, at the time of Brown’s death. Prosecutors argued they believed Franklin shot Brown “in retaliation” to the loss of Gray.

The mistrial happened after 15 witnesses spoke, including two who the paper says named Franklin as the shooter. The jury listened to several audio recordings from the night of the shooting, including one of a phone call in which someone yelled “Tyrone” moments after Brown’s death. The meaning of the name’s use was debated between prosecution and the defense.

Franklin’s first murder trial happened in December 2011, in a case centered around the death of Franklin’s stepfather in 2008. The News-Gazette reports the jury couldn’t make a unanimous verdict decision.

The next dealt with the Dec. 19, 2008 death of 34-year-old James Ellis, when the newspaper says someone shot Ellis in a garage of a house. The first trial ended in a mistrial, and the second resulted in a verdict of innocent. The News-Gazette said four men faced murder charges in that case.

Just two months before Brown’s death, Franklin was out on parole after pleading guilty to a Nov. 2012 charge of attempted armed robbery at a Family Dollar in Urbana.

Franklin is currently dealing with a charge of unlawful use and possession of a weapon by a felon on parole after The News-Gazette says police found a gun in an apartment. That discovery came when they handcuffed him in Jan. 2017.

The paper says Franklin will be in court on Tuesday for the weapon charge.