Inmate sentenced in prison murder

Inmate sentenced in prison murder
(Source: Raycom Media)

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) - An Arkansas Department of Correction inmate has been sentenced to second-degree murder after stabbing a man in prison.

According to Third Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce, 35-year-old Franklin J. Junior pleaded guilty Tuesday to murder in the second degree. A judge sentenced him to an additional 20 years in prison.

"Junior's plea came moments before a jury was to be seated in the Jackson County courtroom to begin his trial for the murder of inmate Joe Kory Harter," Boyce said in a news release.

According to officials, Junior stabbed Harter at the Grimes Unit in June 2015 with a homemade weapon in what was suspected to be gang warfare. Harter died.

"I hope this case sends a message to the prison population in Arkansas that the laws of this state apply to prison inmates just as it does to the general public," Boyce said.

According to Boyce, Junior is a habitual offender. He's been sentenced several times since 2000. His current time in jail began in October 2012. He was sentenced from Drew County for first-degree battery and possession of a firearm by certain persons.

Arkansas Department of Correction Director Wendy Kelley also addressed the sentencing.

"We take these incidents seriously and advocated for the prosecution of Inmate Junior.  We are appreciative of the support we received from the Arkansas State Police and Prosecuting Attorney Henry Boyce's office," Kelley said. "Their hard work, both during the investigative phase and in preparation for trial led to a successful prosecution, an essential tool in combating incidents of violence within our facilities.  We will continue to work with our local partners in seeking the harshest possible penalties for those who engage in criminal activity within our facilities."

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