‘I am not an animal’: Punishment for robber with mouth taped in court

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CLEVELAND-A convicted robber made national headlines last year when the FOX 8 I-Team captured deputies putting tape over his mouth in court, and now he’s been sent to prison for 33 years.

Franklyn Williams learned his sentence Friday in Cuyahoga County Court, but we may not have heard the last from him.

Williams got convicted of three armed robberies even after he skipped out on his trial and went on the run.

Months ago, he went to court to be sentenced, but he kept interrupting the judge. Finally, exclusive I-Team video showed deputies putting duct tape on the mouth of Franklyn Williams.

That created a national buzz. Ultimately, the judge apologized, threw out that sentence, and had a new judge appointed.

Friday, Williams walked into court for sentencing, and while he didn’t disrupt the proceedings, he spoke for 12 minutes, and he kept referring to the duct tape.

He said, "I want the world to know I am not an animal, contrary to what people may think. I am a man." And he added, “Saying no duct tape. Freedom of speech. Your honor, I ask today, your honor, that I receive the lightest sentence that you can give me."

The mother of Williams also spoke up and said he deserved a break because of the duct tape. She told the judge, "My son has suffered enough."

But consider, missing from this courtroom, the victims. Cuyahoga County prosecutors say the victims will never get over what happened including a 75-year-old man. And missing from what Franklyn Williams said at the podium, the victims. For all he said, he didn't talk about the victims.

Cuyahoga County prosecutors said all three victims were regular citizens robbed at gunpoint in separate cases.

In the end, Judge Patricia Cosgrove handed out the 33-year sentence. She pointed out Williams already had a long record before all of this. She said, "I know you're not an animal, Mr. Williams. You're a human being. But the question the court has to determine is if you've learned from those mistakes."

The judge also made a rare move allowing Williams to spend a moment saying goodbye to his mother before heading off to prison.

But if you think we’ve heard the last of this, no. There’s already talk of an appeal.

Williams will sit in prison waiting for any appeal. Oddly, the sentence he received at the hearing with the duct tape was significantly shorter than the new sentence. But again, the earlier punishment was thrown out.

No matter what happens next, this has become an unforgettable case.

**Continuing coverage**

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