Orlando man sentenced to life for murder of Orange County attorney

An Orlando man has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of the murder of former Orange County government attorney Erin Hartigan.

William Ramon Franklin, 36, was arrested in August 2020, and has been awaiting trial for over three years.

In a six-day trial, a jury found Franklin guilty earlier this week of first degree murder with a weapon, according to a press release by the Ninth Judicial Court State Attorney’s office.

The victim was found dead at around 4:00 a.m. on August 16, 2020, in her Delaney Park home with multiple stab wounds. There were no signs of forced entry. Hartigan, 44, had worked as an assistant county attorney for four years.

Orlando police were initially unable to establish a connection between the victim and the suspect until a K-9 unit found a “hot trail” that led to a pair of bloody knives at a neighbor’s home. A pair of shorts belonging to the suspect was also found in Lake Lurna, where OPD found Franklin swimming.

Before the victim was found, Franklin was at Orlando Regional Medical Center receiving treatment for a bad reaction to drugs. He said to police that he had no memory of the events that took place between his hospital visit and his lake swim.

Two doctors testified that Franklin was going through substance-induced psychosis at the time of the murder.

Franklin initially made claims to Orange County officials that he voluntarily ingested “street Percocet” but later changed his story and claimed his beer was spiked with Percocet. The changed version apparently came after Franklin learned the legal implications of the difference between voluntary and involuntary intoxication.

Franklin’s defense attorney claimed insanity by involuntary intoxication, but the person who provided Franklin with the drug said she did not spike his beer.