PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A man who served nearly three decades in prison for the 1989 assassination of the Oregon prison warden has been granted his full freedom.

U.S. Judge John V. Acosta on Monday ordered the dismissal of the murder charges against Frank Gable in Marion County, barring the state from trying him again in the death of Oregon Prison Chief Michael Francke, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported .

“The state or any court is FORBIDDEN from re-arresting, re-charge or re-trial the petitioner for the murder of Michael Francke,” Acosta wrote in a brief order. A full statement is expected later.

Gable’s sister, Francine Sinnett, told the paper she found out about the decision from her brother: “He just called and said it’s over.”

“He is enthusiastic. I’m excited. It’s such a burden from your soul,” she said.

Gable left prison in 2019 after the judge found the court erred in excluding evidence of a third party’s guilt. The ruling came after several witnesses recanted and defense attorneys cited a record of improper interrogations and flawed polygraphs used to interview witnesses and formulate their statements to police.

Acosta then ordered Gable released or retried within 90 days. The judge temporarily stopped the 90-day clock as the state unsuccessfully appealed to the US 9th Circuit Court of Circuits and then unsuccessfully petitioned the US Supreme Court for intervention.

Gable has remained under federal supervision.

In 1991, Gable was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Francke (42).

Francke’s brothers, Pat and Kevin Francke, were staunch defenders of Gable and believe he was wrongly convicted.

Kevin Francke, Michael Francke’s youngest brother, told the newspaper in a statement: “We are delighted that Frank and his wife Rain are no longer paralyzed with fear at every unexpected call or knock and can go about a normal existence.”

Roy Kaufmann, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Justice, said the department respected the court’s decision.

John Crouse, a Salem man then on probation for a robbery, repeatedly said he killed Francke and told police officers, as well as relatives and a friend, that when Francke caught Crouse breaking into his car, he stabbed Francke to death . Crouse is no longer alive.

Acosta found that the exclusion of Crouse’s confessions from Gable’s trial was wrong and violated Gable’s due process rights. The 9th Circuit affirmed Acosta’s decision and called the facts of the appeal extraordinary.


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