PORTLAND, Ore. — Thirty years ago, Frank Gable was sentenced to life in prison. On Friday, the man convicted of killing Oregon's prisons chief in Salem walked free.
On Thursday, a U.S. Magistrate Judge ordered Gable, 59, to be released. The ruling came after the judge found Gable's trial excluded evidence that another person confessed to the crime. Oregon state has appealed the ruling.
Gable was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 42-year-old Oregon Prisons Chief Michael Francke. Francke was stabbed to death outside the Department of Corrections headquarters, on the grounds of the Oregon State Hospital, in 1989.
Investigators arrested Gable a year later.
“They're going to have to pay a lot of reparations to Frank Gable at some point, I hope,” said Patrick Francke, Michael Francke’s brother. Patrick has stayed in touch with Gable through letters, and never thought Gable murdered his brother.
“He wants to get together, have lunch, dinner, get caught up,” said Patrick. “He's learned to use an iPad, but I don't think he's ever used a cellphone.”
A lot has changed in 30 years, but through it all, Gable has maintained his innocence. In an interview with KGW after his arrest, Gable shared his belief that he had been set up.
“I believe I walked into a complicated drug ring and didn't know how complicated it was until now,” Gable said.
There's also the matter of a confession from a man named John Crouse. Thirty years ago, the prosecution disregarded it, and Gable's attorneys never used it to defend him. Earlier this year, U.S. Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta said Gable's rights were violated.
“He's had a terrible life for the last 29 years,” said Patrick, who hopes for the best for Gable in a whole new world. “I ache for him, for what he's going to come out to.”
In a statement, assistant federal public defender Nell Brown shared that Gable plans "to take what life offers him as he always has, with a positive outlook and a sense of humor. He hopes to spend time fishing, hiking and enjoying his freedom.”
Gable was serving his sentence in Kansas. He plans to stay there with his wife. The state is still appealing the ruling and if they win, Gable may have to go back to prison.