BLOOMSBURG — Lewisburg attorney Brian Ulmer believes Anthony “Rocco” Franklin is innocent of murder and a Columbia County jury made the wrong decision when they convicted the 78-year-old Harrisburg man last October.
Franklin was convicted in October of shooting and killing Frank Spencer, 46, of Millville, in July 2012.
Franklin made an appearance Tuesday in Columbia County Court, in Bloomsburg, in front of Centre County Senior Judge David Grine in an attempt to fire Ulmer.
Franklin wanted Grine to appoint a new attorney to represent him in his appeal.
Franklin told Grine Ulmer doesn't answer his calls, works with police, doesn't listen to him and hasn't been in contact with him since January.
"I need someone who cares about my case," Franklin told the judge. "The guy is smart but he doesn't care about my case. I am not an attorney so I don't have the mind to represent myself. I need someone good."
Ulmer told Grine he disagreed with Franklin.
"It's obvious my client and I disagree on my feelings about this case because I do care very much," Ulmer said. "In fact, I believe he is innocent and the jury made a mistake."
Grine listened to both Franklin and Ulmer for about 10 minutes.
"Your honor, I am not asking to represent myself," Franklin said. "I am asking the court to give me a new attorney."
Ulmer explained he attempted to send Franklin documents but the mail system going into the prison has sent things back to Ulmer.
Grine denied Franklin's request and said Ulmer will continue to represent Franklin through the appeal process. Grine ordered Ulmer to send documents to the court whenever he and Franklin communicate.
State police said Spencer, 46, was shot to death by Franklin and his daughter, Maria Sanutti-Spencer, 53, of Selinsgrove. Sanutti-Spencer was convicted in November 2015 of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Franklin was convicted late last year and was also sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Both Franklin and Sanutti-Spencer claim they are innocent.