CASE UPDATE: “Black Widow” Father Sentenced to Life in Prison

December 28, 2018 | Topic: Criminal

Anthony Rocco Franklin Faces Life Plus an Additional 45 Years in Prison for Murder of Former Son-In-Law

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that a Columbia County man that a jury found guilty of first degree murder and other charges in the execution-style slaying of his former son-in-law was sentenced to life without possibility of parole, plus 11 to 45 years in prison.

Anthony Rocco Franklin, 76, fled to South America in 2013, after he testified before a statewide investigating grand jury probing the murder of Franklin’s former son-in-law, Frank Spencer, who was fatally shot at his home in Hemlock Township near Bloomsburg, Columbia County. Franklin fought extradition for two and a half years before being extradited to America in April 2017 to face trial on the charges. His daughter – with whom Franklin conspired to kill Spencer – Maria Sanutti-Spencer, famously dubbed the “Black Widow” killer, was convicted of first-degree murder in November 2015 and is currently serving a life sentence plus 50 years for the homicide of her ex-husband.

“Today’s sentence in this case fits the violent crime of first degree murder for which the defendant was convicted,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Over six years after his July 2012 murder – we’ve taken down the guilty parties, and Frank Spencer’s family has justice for his ruthless killing.”

The murder conviction results in an automatic life sentence. The other consecutive sentences are 3 1/2 to 20 years for burglary; 6-20 years for arson and 1 1/2 to 5 years for terroristic threats. The defendant was also ordered to pay costs and a total restitution of $310,330.73.

Franklin was sentenced by Centre County Senior Judge David Grine.

This case was prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Anthony Forray and Deputy Attorney General Philip McCarthy of the Attorney General’s Criminal Prosecutions Section.

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