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Observations on Michael Francke's Murder, Frank Gable's Conviction, & the paid Confession of 'Shorty' HardenAuthor name withheld Salem-News.com
Was an error made by an activist trying to free an innocent man?
(SALEM, Ore.) - Forward by editor: For the past several weeks Salem-News.com has been involved in a series investigation of racism, corruption, hate crimes, bribery and criminal violence in the Oregon state corrections department.
The primary events we are following center around the past employment of an African-American prison guard named William Coleman, who worked at the Oregon State Prison (OSP) in Salem from 2005 to 2007, attempting in vain to expose criminal activity taking place in the prison.
When Coleman filed a 'Whistleblower' claim, the state reacted by charging this former guard with several counts of 'cigarette smuggling' and suddenly this law man was facing 40 years in prison himself.
The series has also examined the plight of three African American inmates who were willing to testify that Coleman was being framed and railroaded by the Oregon Dept. of Corrections (DOC); Clayton Howard, Terrence Kimble and John Smith.
Coleman took the charges to court and won a unanimous not guilty verdict from a jury of his peers, demonstrating for the record that the charges against him had been fabricated.
These stories have generated a great deal of interest, and point to years of official corruption in the Oregon DOC, and obvious complicity with the Oregon Dept. of Justice (DOJ) and the Marion County District Attorney's Office.
The news series also establishes a connection between present day events, and the 1989 murder of an Oregon Dept. of Corrections Director named Michael Francke. To this day, a man named Frank Gable is serving a prison sentence for Francke's murder.
Almost all involved in the case beyond the immediate police and prosecution team that convicted Gable, believe Oregon convicted an innocent man. It was even covered by John Walsh on America's Most Wanted.
The same legal system in Oregon responsible for the injustice in the cases referenced here, recently refused to talk to NBC's Dateline over another case, the wrongful Murder conviction of Oregon resident Scott Cannon.
The record shows a dismal and challenged legal environment in Oregon, where layer after layer of lies and false innuendo are added to a witches brew of corrupt legal maneuvering. The story below is written by a person who has worked very closely with the case for many years. Their identity is not important, I know this individual to be credible.
Not everyone wants to have their name associated with this story and, knowing what I know about Oregon, I can hardly blame them. This is not a guessing game by the way, and attempts to ID this writer will not be published.
There are links to background stories and information, and also for background on the Francke Murder, visit the Website: freefrankgable.com.)
For background, the individuals in this story are:
-Observations regarding the Frank Gable conviction, Michael Francke's Murder and the paid confession of 'Shorty' Harden-
Cappie 'Shorty' Harden was a longtime criminal before the Murder of Oregon Corrections Chief Michael Francke in January 1989. When prosecutors decided that Frank Gable was going to take the fall for the crime, they greatly needed the Grand Jury testimony given by a teenage girl, Jodie Swearingen, to back Harden’s play when he testified before the same Grand Jury, which indicted Gable for Michael Francke’s murder.
'Shorty' Harden, an admitted prior lover of a then underage Swearingen, claimed to the Grand Jury, and later at Gable’s trial, to be an eyewitness to Francke’s murder, and fingered Gable for it.
Harden’s testimony at trial, in the event Gable would be convicted of the Francke murder, made Harden eligible for at least a $50,000 reward money being offered for information leading to the conviction of the perpetrator of Michael Francke’s murder. Harden, as the trial was looming, coined a term referring to himself (Harden) as the 'state's million dollar baby".
Everyone makes a bad call now and then- thinking they know best; Rob Taylor's decision to pay Shorty Harden for his recant was a bad call, in my opinion.
Years after Gable’s trial, a female private detective from the Portland area procured Harden’s address. The address was eventually passed on in some manner to a Frank Gable advocate, Rob Taylor. Taylor has previously told about all this on his website. Taylor went to find Harden in Portland. Over the next month, Taylor and Harden bonded, while doing drugs and tooling with cars together, per Taylor’s explanations once found on his website and blogs. Taylor could clarify further.
Taylor soon convinced Harden to tell his story to the media. Harden then did so, recanting that he had even been near the Dome Building that night (January 17, 1989). Therefore, he could have not seen Gable there. Problematic, for Gable who was then and is still sitting in prison, is that Harden demanded money for telling his story.
According to Rob Taylor, Taylor acted NOT upon Gable’s request in the matter of Harden, but actually at the bequest of Michael Francke’s brothers, Kevin and Patrick, who put up the money Taylor claims to have passed on to Harden: namely, $3,000 in two payments; part paid before and after Harden (accompanied by Taylor) met the newspaper reporter. Taylor could clarify this also.
Harden’s recant was printed, and though it may never be of much use to Gable, it made good headlines and Taylor’s “Free Frank Gable” advocacy website got some press and internet traffic.
Advocates of the wrongfully convicted, arranging to pay trial witnesses to recant after a trial and conviction, is not necessarily wise. More thinking heads, than less, should be involved in such a serious legally-delicate decision, and certainly the attorney of record of the wrongfully convicted should be consulted with, as their client should too, if possible.
The state likely paid Harden some reward money from the Francke Murder Reward fund, for his testimony, which Harden has since has claimed was totally fabricated, perjured testimony. Harden, later demanding and receiving payment to give his recant to the media, will likely be seen in a not too credible light by a Federal Judge who will be, at some point in the future, hearing Gable’s habeas corpus petition.
Interestingly, Swearingen had actually stayed with Gable, and his wife for a while (I believe Summer '89) prior to Gable’s later indictment. I believe an apologetic letter which surfaced in files sometime later, about her lying to the Grand Jury, was written to Gable by Jodie Swearingen while both were being held prior to Gable’s trial.
Additionally, according to Swearingen, A “mock” Grand Jury was held by the prosecutors so as to allow her to practice her soon to be heard Grand Jury testimony. Shortly thereafter, prior to giving their actual Grand Jury testimony, Harden and Swearingen, were placed in a Courthouse room, with State Police detectives (directly involved in the case) in the room also.
Swearingen has stated Harden and her were placed together so she could get her story to line up with his, about her calling him to pick her up at the Dome building, right before Michael Francke was found missing, on 17 January, 1989. Shorty’s version was, when he picked up Jodie, he witnessed Gable stab Francke. Swearingen was Harden’s ONLY known corroborator that he was anywhere near the Dome building. It has been said, however by others, that Harden was elsewhere at the time (7:00 p.m. that night).
Background on Jodie Swearingen:
The female, "underage drug addict” testimony of Jodie Swearingen was Grand Jury testimony which contributed in some manner to Frank Gable’s indictment. After giving Grand Jury testimony, the teenager recanted her Grand Jury testimony to a Gable defense investigator, and also two attorneys at a law firm with whom she met.
Swearingen then left the State of Oregon.
Already, a named material witness in the Francke murder, she was picked up out of state and brought back to Marion County. Subsequently, the teenager was incarcerated as a material witness. A prosecutor alleged that she was a flight risk.
As Jodie Swearingen had recanted her Grand Jury testimony prior to leaving the state, she requested several court hearings, in an attempt to be let out, and on other matters relating to her treatment while being held pending Gable’s trial. She was eventually called to testify at Gable’s trial, by the Gable defense. Her Grand Jury testimony was read into the trial record, by the prosecutor, in an attempt to impeach Swearingen’s recantment, and her testimony at Gable’s trial.
It was Jodie Swearingen against Shorty Harden. It has never been confirmed where the reward funds went.
This contribution was originally left as a comment on: Whistleblower Blues: Man in the Hole. By selecting the link you can read the discussion that immediately preceded this article.
Previous Installments in this series:
Great resources on the Michael Francke Murder:
Articles for August 27, 2010 | Articles for August 28, 2010 | Articles for August 29, 2010