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Driver in fatal York City bicycle crash had seizure in 2011 accident

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A York City man who lost control of his car and fatally struck a bicyclist last week was previously charged with aggravated assault for causing a four-vehicle injury crash in Manchester Township in 2011, according to court records.

Murphy Franklin Jr. was charged with aggravated assault and related offenses for the 2011 crash, but a jury in 2015 acquitted him of all charges after determining he had suffered a seizure behind the wheel, according to his then-defense attorney, Josh Neiderhiser.

Franklin, 47, of the 200 block of Jefferson Avenue, was critically injured last week when he crashed his car near the intersection of Jessop Place and Kings Mill Road.

York City Police investigate the scene where a bicyclist was struck and killed in the vicinity of Kings Mill Road and Jessop Place in York City, Thursday, June 28, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Franklin's car was northbound on Jessop Place when it crossed over Kings Mill Road, went up onto a curb, then down an embankment and onto the York County Heritage Rail Trail about 4:45 p.m. Thursday, June 28, police said.

Killed in the crash was Christopher Kress, 45, of York City, who was riding his bicycle on the rail trail when he was struck by Franklin's car, according to York City Police Lt. Gene Fells.

On Tuesday, July 3, Fells said he had not received any updates on Franklin's condition. Franklin's current condition also could not be obtained from York Hospital.

Police continue to investigate, which could take a few months to wrap up, Fells said.

2011 crash: Franklin caused a crash on July 7, 2011, that injured several people, according to court documents filed by Northern York County Regional Police.

It happened about 7 a.m. on North George Street near the intersection of Masonic Drive in Manchester Township, police said at the time.

Franklin was southbound on George Street at a high rate of speed when he struck three mailboxes near the Hayshire Drive intersection and went around a southbound Rabbit Transit bus, court documents state.

Witnesses told officers they saw Franklin's car run a red light at the Woodland View Drive intersection, then veer into the northbound lane to get around southbound vehicles, documents state.

Hit three vehicles: Franklin's car struck trash cans and recycling bins in the 2300 block of North George Street, then crashed into one southbound vehicle, pushed a second into a guard rail, and finally struck a car that was stopped for a red light at the Masonic Drive intersection, Northern Regional Police said.

A memorial stands near Heritage Rail Trail at the intersection of Kings Mill Road and Jessop Place in York City, Tuesday, July 3, 2018. Bicyclist Christopher Kress, 45, of York City, was struck and killed by driver Murphy Franklin Jr., 47, also of York City, on Thursday June 28, when Franklin lost control of his car while driving north on Jessop Place. Dawn J. Sagert

Franklin's car then went off the road, over an embankment and flipped over near the Comfort Inn, police said.

One driver suffered a concussion, fractured vertebrae, a fractured sternum and bruising to her face, police said. Two other drivers suffered injuries, as did Franklin, according to court documents.

He told police he had left work because of a migraine, then blacked out while driving, documents state.

Charges for the crash were filed against Franklin in December 2013, and a jury acquitted him of all charges in January 2015, court records state.

Murphy Franklin Jr.

Had a seizure: Neiderhiser, who represented Franklin at trial, told The York Dispatch on Tuesday that his client had a seizure while driving.

"The medical evidence was clear," he said. "I don't think there's any dispute that he had a seizure."

At trial, the prosecution argued that Franklin was aware that he was at risk of having a seizure, and therefore was negligent because he drove anyway, according to Neiderhiser. The alleged negligence is what led to the aggravated assault charges.

But Neiderhiser said prosecutors didn't provide evidence to prove their theory, and jurors acquitted him.

Franklin so far has not been charged for last week's fatal accident.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.