Saturday, January 26, 2008

Judge, not jury, to decide case of man accused of hacking wife, son with sword

Franklyn "Frankie" Duzant will face a non-jury trial Feb. 27 a judge ruled today. Duzant's defense said Duzant was insane when he killed his wife and son with a sword in 2006. (JULIE FLETCHER, ORLANDO SENTINEL / January 25, 2008)

January 26, 2008


A judge, not a jury, will decide the fate of Franklyn "Frankie" Duzant, the disabled Army veteran who is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the hacking death of his wife and 11-year-old son in June 2006.

Seminole Circuit Court Judge Donna McIntosh announced the Feb. 27 trial date during a brief hearing Friday at the Seminole County courthouse.

Duzant sat quietly in the courtroom with his ankles and wrists shackled.

"Both sides agreed that this was the most efficient and effective way to have some finality to the case without going into a lot of further expense," said Duzant's attorney, Diana Tennis.

On June 16, 2006, neighbors say, they watched in horror as Duzant, 42, followed his son Nico as he ran frantically out of the house to get away from his father, according to police reports. Nico ran across the street toward some neighbors, and when he stumbled, Duzant slashed him to death with a sword, the report said. It was the boy's 11th birthday.

Investigators later found Duzant's wife, Evangeline "Gigi" Duzant, 52, dead inside their home on Queensbridge Drive near Lake Mary. She had been beheaded.

Prosecutors have said they would seek the death penalty.

Four mental health experts -- two for the defense and two for the state -- agreed Duzant was hallucinating and insane when he killed his family.

McIntosh will review the doctors' reports and if she accepts their findings, she could find Duzant not guilty by reason of insanity and send him to a state mental hospital for treatment.

Duzant is being medicated and is now competent to stand trial.

"He's not getting treatment and that's the problem. They medicate him but that's not exactly getting care and treatment," Tennis said.

Sarah Lundy, Ludmilla Lelis, Denise-Marie Balona, Willoughby Mariano and Kate Santich of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

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