In April 2013, Jared Shahid '02 was listening KCRW 89.9FM. As Franky Carrillo's story unfolded on the radio, Jared shut his office door and listened intently for more than an hour. “He was so positive and compelling,” he said. “I knew I had to meet him.” Thanks to Jared, a well known intellectual talent agent, the Suffield community benefitted from a remarkable chapel presentation on January 13, 2014.
Almost 23 years ago to the day, Franky Carrillo's life changed dramatically when sheriffs stormed into the Los Angeles home he shared with his father and three siblings. Franky was handcuffed, taken into custody, and later charged with the murder of Donald Sarpy. Franky was so blindsided and confused by the allegations that he laughed when he heard the charge.
After two trials, Franky was eventually convicted of murder. “It was like an explosion went off in the room. My ears were ringing,” he said of the shock. He was sentenced to two life sentences. Yet even after the verdict, Franky said he had hope that someday the truth would be revealed.
While in prison, Franky started writing letters and petitioning his case to the Supreme Court of California. Unfortunately he was repeatedly denied a retrial. He says he may have lost hope at times but not for very long. Something prompted him to keep trying.
In 2004, Franky approached his boss at Folsom State Prison—a woman named Tony—with a question. She was getting ready to retire and on her last day of work, Franky asked if she would be willing to share his story. Not only did Tony keep her promise, she approached attorney Ellen Eggers at an event one evening. It was Ellen and the partners at Morrison & Foerster who eventually won Franky's retrial twenty years after his initial conviction.
Franky has been “home” for two and a half years and is now studying law and policy making at Loyola Maramount University. “On the day I was released, my life went from a black and white existence to an HD experience,” he says. “I now want to be that adult that comes forward to help a wrongfully accused juvenile.”
At the end of Franky's chapel presentation, the Suffield community gave him a standing ovation. More than twenty students waited to ask him questions. As one student said, it's hard to digest the fact that he doesn't harbor any resentment toward the justice system or the six witnesses who wrongfully accused him. Franky's answer? “Now that I'm free, I prefer to be forgiving and understanding. It's been serving me well so far. If I feel anger, I might as well be back in prison.”