Kevin Franke’s trial in the hot car deaths of two children has been continued while the courts await a decision by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that could impact the case.

On Aug. 15, District Court Judge N. Keith Williams ordered, in agreement with defense attorney Richard Ellison and District Attorney Lucy Wilke, that Franke’s trial would be postponed. They're waiting until the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rules on whether negligent or reckless conduct leading to death can be the basis for a murder charge. 

“It wouldn’t make sense to go to trial on the two felony murder cases on indictments that allege the deaths were caused by criminally negligent conduct that was committed knowingly ... until we know what the law will be after the (court of appeals) rules,” Ellison said in an email.

Franke, who was 16 years old at the time of the girls’ deaths two years ago, has maintained that he didn’t know the toddlers were present when he was given permission by their mother to sleep alone in a front seat for a couple of hours after a party in Kerrville. 

The girls’ mother, Amanda Hawkins, reportedly told people who asked about the welfare of her children that the toddlers were fine. Franke received a ride to the party from a friend, but the friend left him there.

“He’s just a kid who took a nap in a car and was not the guardian, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Ellison said.

Addyson Overgard-Eddy, 2, and Brynn Hawkins, 1, were left in the car until about noon. They were taken to a local hospital and then to a San Antonio hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

In addition to arguing his client didn’t know the kids were there, committed no wrongdoing knowingly and should never have been certified to go into the adult court system, Ellison is arguing that the two murder indictments against Franke are legally invalid. 

Although it’s not disputed that Franke turned off the car, rolled up the windows and left, Ellison argues that there is legal precedent for the notion that “felony murder cannot be based on negligent or reckless conduct.” 

Depending on how the appellate court rules, this legal precedent may become official case law in the near future. 

“This should never have been indicted as a felony murder case,” Ellison said Tuesday. “And I think the court of criminal appeals will make the right decision.”

But even if Ellison succeeds in getting the two murder indictments quashed, Franke has several other felony charges stemming from the same incident: two counts of manslaughter, two counts of causing serious bodily injury to a child and two counts of abandoning or endangering a child. 

Amanda Hawkins was not convicted of murder; she was sentenced to 40 years in prison last year after being convicted on two counts of child endangerment and two counts of injury to a child. 

“I think Amanda Hawkins got a great plea (deal) and maybe somebody thought that somebody ought to get indicted for murder, since Amanda got away with it,” Ellison said.

For now, Franke is out of jail on bond. He has an 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. curfew, must submit to random urinalysis testing and other typical bond conditions. However, until Ellison had the bond conditions modified last week, Franke was required to wear an ankle monitor and be in the company of his father 24/7, Ellison said. 

Franke is working for his father digging ditches and installing water lines for mobile home parks, and he received his GED from Kerrville Independent School District’s alternative high school at age 17. 

He’s considering joining the military if he ends up having a clean record, Ellison indicated.

“Kevin’s a good kid,” Ellison said. “It was a horrible accident. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he’s getting treated like a murderer and he’s a good kid.”

Franke’s pastor and friend, Robert White, agrees. 

“He doesn’t have a mother,” White said. “She abandoned him when he was a year and a half old. We knew his grandparents, when he came here. He doesn’t know anything about kids. He’s never been around kids in his life. No siblings. I’ve questioned him about this so many times.”

(4) comments

POPE

Okguy, I agree with you concerning the conflicts, bias and incompetence in our system. The GOB that support their compliant, but incompetent politicians, to a man, veil themselves in the church, flag and rule of law, and that is the most repugnant aspect of our situation in my opinion. Take a look at the core support of Prohl, Sutton and Amos Barton and you will see all roads lead to the same GOB’s. The damage these GOB’s have caused to average folks in this county is terrible. The damage to K Franke is horrible, and I don’t think this group has enough conscience to care, so long as they have key players in their pocket.

robert white

Conservative, You may be on to something. I bet Epstein would have donated all his millions to have his case transferred here where money and influence rules. A justice system that hid child molestation claims against former city councilman Stork from the public, ignored a possible homicide involving Stork's wife, since no official determination was made to the cause of Peggy Stork's death. Yet has spent two years and countless hours trying to destroy a 16 year old kid, accusing him of being a mass murderer by unknowingly rolling windows up in a car. Me thinks there's crime downtown.

POPE

I can imagine that many of the new arrivals to Kerrville from other states are perplexed by this case and the overall political landscape of rural Texas. In order to understand the Texas small town political model, I suggest reading Dukes of Duval County: The Parr Family and Texas Politics by Anthony Carrozza. This fine historical account lays out the template for rural Texas politics and can provide a new lens through which local goings on can be viewed. This information will bring clarity to our current situation.

POPE

Newcomers to Kerr County may ask “why is Ortiz/Cavasos/Wilke dedicating so much of our money and our time to this this case, and why is she pursuing a murder charge? The first answer is Ortiz/Cavasos/Wilke is incompetent. Beyond that, one must look at how local politics work and why so many incompetent people hold public office here. A small group of powerful and politically connected folks control this county for purposes of money and power, and they prop up politicians that are loyal to them. Unfortunately, politicians that will serve these masters are obviously flawed. This is the cost of doing business for the GOB. Ortiz/Cavasos/Wilke showed her loyalty in the Gus Schreiner case and many others, and this is what really matters to the GOB. Justice and the welfare of the community are a distant second. The GOB has no political ideology beyond more money and more power.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.