Man found guilty in adopted son’s murder inspired by Oscar-winning movie ‘Manchester by the Sea’

Father faces up to 25 years to life in murder of 16-year-old adopted son

NORWICH, NY (WBNG/CNN) - After only a few hours of deliberation, a jury in New York state returned a guilty verdict for a father, who, prosecutors argued, killed his adopted, special needs son then set fire to the family home.

Ernest Franklin, 36, was found guilty Friday afternoon of murder, arson and tampering with evidence in the March 2017 death of his son, 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin. The teenager was deaf and had behavioral issues, according to the Associated Press.

"I'm just very happy that the jury was very attentive. They listened to the case I presented, and they believed beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Chenango County Acting Defense Attorney Michael Ferrarese.

Ernest Franklin faces a sentence of up to 25 years to life in prison.

Parts of the evidence shown during the trial made the case that Jeffrey was dead before a fire broke out at the family’s Guilford, NY, home.

Prosecutors claim Heather Franklin and her husband Ernest Franklin watched the movie "Manchester in the Sea," which inspired the murder of their son. (Source: WBNG/Chenango County DA/CNN)
Prosecutors claim Heather Franklin and her husband Ernest Franklin watched the movie "Manchester in the Sea," which inspired the murder of their son. (Source: WBNG/Chenango County DA/CNN)

The case drew attention because of its similarities to the movie “Manchester by the Sea,” in which the main character, played by Casey Affleck, learns he cannot be prosecuted for killing his children, following an accidental house fire.

Prosecutors claimed Ernest Franklin and his wife, Heather Franklin, had been watching the movie before the fire was set.

Heather Franklin was also charged in Jeffrey’s death. She faces a trial of her own, now that her husband’s trial is complete.

"Every case has its own unique characteristics. While there’ll obviously be some similarities between the two cases, there’s work that needs to be done, and we’ll be getting to work very soon on that case,” Ferrarese said.

Ernest Franklin and his wife, Heather Franklin, were both charged in the March 2017 death of their adopted son, 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin. Heather Franklin is awaiting trial. (Source: GoFundMe/WBNG/CNN)
Ernest Franklin and his wife, Heather Franklin, were both charged in the March 2017 death of their adopted son, 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin. Heather Franklin is awaiting trial. (Source: GoFundMe/WBNG/CNN)

Copyright 2019 WBNG, Melissa Welsh, GoFundMe, Amazon Studios, Chenango County DA via CNN. All rights reserved. Gray News contributed to this report.