In a harrowing case that has shocked the community, a trial has commenced in Washington state against the parents of a 15-year-old boy, Karreon Franks, who tragically died from starvation and neglect in November 2020. Karreon, who was autistic and severely developmentally delayed, weighed a mere 61 pounds at the time of his death, having lost over 50 pounds in the year leading up to his passing.
Felicia Adams, 54, and Jesse Franks, 58, are facing serious charges that include domestic violence, homicide by abuse, and second-degree murder in connection with Karreon’s death. They are also accused of two counts of second-degree criminal mistreatment concerning Karreon’s younger brothers.
The trial, which is taking place at Clark County Superior Court, began with prosecutors presenting their opening statements. They detailed the horrific conditions in which Karreon lived, emphasizing his extreme developmental delays and nonverbal communication skills.
However, the defense attorneys for Adams and Franks have argued that Karreon’s death was not a result of their actions but instead attributed it to his pre-existing medical conditions. They claimed that Karreon had severe issues with digestion and often struggled to keep food down, with aspiration pneumonia initially listed as the cause of his death.
The tragedy came to light on November 27, 2020, when Adams rushed Karreon to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead only 15 minutes after arriving. The attending physician, shocked by Karreon’s emaciated state, promptly notified Child Protective Services.
Further investigation by the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the dreadful cause of Karreon’s death: starvation and neglect. In response, Child Protective Services intervened and took Karreon’s younger brothers into protective custody, noting a swift recovery in their health.
Adams and Franks were arrested several months later, apprehended in San Joaquin County, California, on fugitive from justice warrants issued by Clark County.
Prosecutors intend to demonstrate that Karreon had previously been growing and maintaining a healthy weight. His last medical checkup in July 2019 indicated that he weighed 115 pounds. The abrupt deterioration in his health coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, when his school transitioned to virtual learning.
Erik Podhora, Senior Deputy Prosecutor, pointed out that despite the presence of food in the family’s home, the boys did not have access to it.
The trial has evoked strong emotions in the community, as the prosecution seeks to hold the parents accountable for the tragic death of Karreon Franks, whose promising life was cut short by a devastating combination of neglect and starvation.