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Tracen Franklin found guilty Wednesday of murdering 19-year-old Bobby Tillman

8:41 PM, Sep 13, 2012   |    comments
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DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. -- The verdict is guilty, and soon the jury will decide whether the penalty is death.

The jury has three choices; death, life in prison with parole, and live in prison with parole.

A Douglas County jury on Wednesday afternoon found Tracen Franklin guilty of the unprovoked, 2010 murder of 19-year-old college student Bobby Tillman, a murder that set off a firestorm of outrage.

The jury heard testimony from two mothers on Thursday. The mother of Bobby Tillman and Tracen Franklin's mom.  The statements they gave may sway the decision on Franklin's penalty.

"My life is miserable and lonely without my son. A mother is not supposed to bury a child. I miss Bobby so much. He was so close to me. He was truly my best friend," Tillman's Mom, Monique Rivard said, as she choked back tears.

Sonia Lavon Barber's story was quite different. She told the court how she raised Tracen Franklin alone and put a lot of responsibility on him. When Tracen was only 3-years-old, she told the court how she left him alone to care for his baby sister.

"He was three but I had systems in place," Barber said.

Her system, she told the jury, was to call home while at work and let the phone ring 3 times, then call back. That's how Tracen would know he should answer the phone.

However, she said as Tracen got older, she put him into sports to help give him good male role models.  Obviously, she acknowledged on cross examination, the choices he made were wrong.

It was a murder merciless, random.

Four young men attacked and killed 19 year old Bobby Tillman with their fists and feet, for no reason.

Franklin listened quietly as the jury declared him guilty of the charges against him, felony murder and malice murder -- helping to beat to death Bobby Tillman on that November night two years ago.

Tillman's mother left the courtroom just before the verdict was read. She's been the most eloquent and outspoken advocate of justice for her son, the son she's called her best friend.

Bobby Tillman had gone to a party in November, 2010.

And outside the home some of the teens began arguing.

Then, prosecutors say, Franklin and three other young men picked Tillman out of the crowd for no reason, and beat him and kicked him to death.

During Franklin's trial, jurors heard his videotaped police interview.

"I did throw a punch or two, maybe three," he said. "Did I kick him? Yes, I did. Maybe once."

One of the other four defendants has already pleaded guilty in order to escape the death penalty, and the other two are also not expected to face death.

Franklin could be the only one of the four executed for the murder.

Just before the trial began last month, Bobby Tillman's mother, Monique Rivarde, told 11Alive News that, even now, some days she just doesn't want to wake up.

"It is indescribable, the pain.... I miss my son with everything in me. And I hate what happened to him, he didn't deserve it, he had a bright future, and he was a good, good person. And I just want justice. So if Mr. Franklin is found guilty, then I want justice."

Douglas County Superior Court Judge William McClain said from the bench Wednesday that the sentencing part of the trial could take until next week.

The jury will have three options -- death, life, or life without parole.

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