A 46-year-old man arrested last week in a Gustine homicide investigation will soon be a free man.
David Franklin was arrested Friday afternoon, accused of killing his 34-year-old housemate, Misty Garcia.
Police went to a home in the 400 block of Wallis Avenue about 11 a.m. and found Franklin performing CPR on the victim. Franklin claimed he'd left the home, returned later and discovered Garcia hanged herself, according to Gustine Police Chief Doug Dunford. But facts about the death led police to believe it was homicide, not suicide.
Franklin was scheduled to be arraigned on homicide charges in Merced County Superior Court on Wednesday. But the Merced County District Attorney's Office decided against filing a complaint in the case.
Under the law, because defendants have a right to a speedy trial, the District Attorney's Office must generally file charges within 48 court hours of the arrest.
With no charges pending against him, Franklin was scheduled to be released Wednesday evening.
Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II said more investigation will need to take place before his office decides whether charges against Franklin are warranted.
For example, although the autopsy was conducted on Garcia this week, Morse said his office is still awaiting a written autopsy report and forensic information in the case. "There are some unanswered questions that still need to be resolved before we make a determination whether it will result in criminal charges," Morse said.
When asked whether the victim could have actually committed suicide, Morse replied "I can't speculate at this point." Morse added, "It's very uncertain at this stage of the investigation what precisely took place."
Gustine Police Chief Doug Dunford said his department is still continuing its investigation into Garcia's death, waiting for DNA samples from a Department of Justice laboratory and toxicology reports from the autopsy. "We're still following up and moving forward," Dunford said.
Paramedics and emergency personnel tried to save Garcia, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Gustine police are asking anyone with information to call (209) 854-3737, ext. 47.
Franklin is the second homicide suspect in Merced County to be released from jail this year. In March, 19-year-old Salvador Vega Rendon Jr. was released from jail after prosecutors said there wasn't enough evidence to hold him as a suspect in the Jan. 1 slaying of 23-year-old Los Banos resident Felipe Hernandez Bravo Jr.
City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.