PORTLAND, Oregon — A man convicted of a high-profile murder more than 30 years ago in Oregon could walk out of prison, and he has the blessing of the victim's family. They don't believe he did it.
That's why they've started a campaign to help him if he's released.
Frank Gable has spent 30 years in prison. It’s a long time, especially for someone who Patrick Francke says was unjustly put there.
“He belongs on the streets as a free man,” said Francke.
Patrick is the brother of Michael Francke, who was the head of the Oregon Department of Corrections when he was stabbed to death in 1989. Gable was convicted for killing Francke and sentenced to life without parole.
But, Gable could be released after a recent judicial ruling found mistakes made during the trial.
To help with the transition into life outside of prison, Patrick Francke and his brother Kevin have started a GoFundMe campaign called the Frank Gable Freedom Fund. They’ve made it their mission to help someone they believe was wrongfully convicted of their brother's murder. The goal is to raise $60,000.
From the beginning, Gable said he was set up.
“I believe that I walked into a complicated drug ring and really didn't know how complicated it was until now,” Gable told KGW after he was accused. He said he believed that a drug ring had something to do with Michael Francke’s murder.
Gable has filed multiple appeals over the decades but finally in April of this year, U.S. Magistrate Judge John Acosta ruled the trial court made a mistake by excluding evidence showing another person had actually confessed to the crime.
He also said Gable presented enough evidence of a, "constitutional violation that probably resulted in the conviction of someone who was actually innocent."
Judge Acosta gave the state 90 days to retry or release Gable. But Patrick says because of a state appeal and other court issues, Gable's release is up in the air.
“If they can get all the paperwork resolved, he’ll be a free man and then the hard part starts for Frank Gable,” Patrick said.
Patrick said he and his brother, Kevin, don’t want Gable to suffer for someone else who murdered their brother. That’s why they’re doing all they can to help him.
They want to make sure Gable is as equipped as possible for life outside prison walls.
“He’s been unjustly convicted. He deserves a second chance and he deserves a boost. That's what we're trying to do, give him some help getting started again,” Patrick said.
Patrick said if Gable is released, he’ll have no money and will be starting from scratch. He also noted that Gable has been a model prisoner.
The Oregon Department of Justice is appealing Judge Acosta’s ruling saying it believes Gable remains a danger to the public and fears that he will run away if he's released.
Gable is serving time in Kansas. If he's released, he would live in Kansas with his wife.