Alleged murderer Anthony Rocco Franklin arraigned

Last updated: April 12, 2017 - 6:46pm

Cpl. Shawn Williams leads Anthony Rocco Franklin into an arraignment at District Judge Douglas Brewer's office on Wednesday, as Franklin shields his face with a hooded sweatshirt. (Press Enterprise/Keith Haupt)

MILLVILLE — Accused killer and fugitive Anthony “Rocco” Franklin draped a red sweatshirt over his head to hide his face from media cameras Wednesday as officers pulled him from the back seat of a police cruiser and escorted him to face charges in the 2012 murder of Frank Spencer.

“You got the wrong case. I’m here for drunk driving,” Franklin, 75, sarcastically told assembled TV and newspaper reporters awaiting his 4 p.m. arrival outside Millville district court.

Franklin’s return here from an Argentinian prison yesterday brought to an end his four-year odyssey on the run since the July 2012 murder of Spencer.

Maria Sanutti-Spencer, Franklin’s daughter and Spencer’s ex-wife, was convicted in 2015 and is serving a life sentence for the ambush-style shooting of Spencer, 46, at his Hemlock Township home.

Prosecutors hope to convince a jury that Franklin conspired with his daughter to kill Spencer, each firing a gunshot that killed Spencer at the age of 46.

“My dad didn’t do it,” daughter Grace Sanutti told the Press Enterprise Wednesday during a phone call from Argentina. 

“This is not going to be a quiet trial. We’re going to fight, screaming if we have to," she said. "…It will be a loud nasty trial.” 

‘I look like a bum’ 
The balding, unshaven Franklin appeared haggard with stringy gray, shoulder-length hair upon removing the sweatshirt from his head inside the courtroom of District Judge Doug Brewer.

Franklin acknowledged he was in need of a shave and shower and promised photographers he would be more presentable once he cleaned up for his next hearing. 

“I haven’t shaved,” Franklin said. “I look like a bum.” 

Brewer yesterday ordered Franklin to Columbia County’s prison with no chance for bail.

“No bail? I’m surprised,” Franklin told Brewer.

“It’s a murder charge,” Brewer explained, “and you’re a fugitive from justice.” 

Franklin is scheduled to appear again for a preliminary hearing before Brewer Monday, April 24, in Columbia County court. 

Columbia County Sheriff Tim Chamberlain, who was called in to provide security for Franklin’s court appearance yesterday, said Franklin will likely remain in Columbia County’s lock-up until his trial. 

‘Good day’ 
“It’s just a good day,” said Paul Siciliano, a longtime friend of Spencer’s who attended yesterday’s proceeding.

“Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end of a long chapter.”

Siciliano, a former Scott Township Police officer, sat in on Franklin’s arraignment yesterday alongside Ron Romig, another friend of Frank Spencer who owns Romig’s Tavern at the west end of Bloomsburg.

Frank Spencer’s mother, Madeline Spencer, also showed up for Franklin’s arrival here yesterday. 

She didn’t sit in for the court proceeding, however, leaving after getting a glimpse of the man who allegedly killed her son. 

“This was a very long day for law enforcement,” said State Police Cpl. Shawn Williams, who has spearheaded the Spencer murder investigation.

“I’m glad for the Spencer family.” 

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