Former Cal State Fresno professor Max B. Franc was sentenced Friday to serve a prison term of 25 years to life for the 1987 murder of a Hollywood transient who was shot and then dismembered with a rented chain saw.
Franc, 58, sat stoically as Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John H. Reid pronounced the maximum sentence. He said Franc could be eligible for parole after 17 years.
Plea for Leniency
Before the sentencing, Franc’s sister, Carol Waiters, 56, made an emotional courtroom plea for leniency. Referring to her brother’s double life as a teacher and a homosexual, Waiters, a Philadelphia psychiatric social worker, urged Reid to “ignore that part of his personality” and to consider instead “the whole person.”
Reid also had received numerous letters asking for special consideration, including a hand-written letter from Franc’s parents in Wisconsin.
Before delivering the sentence, Reid told Franc, “You are not a typical (criminal) defendant.” But neither were the crimes the run-of-the-mill cases that pass through the criminal courts, the judge said.
“You’re two different people,” Reid said.
After sentencing him, the judge said he hopes Franc will use his teaching talents to help fellow inmates prepare for a life on the outside. “It’s a shame that it had to come to this,” Reid said.
Prosecutor Sterling E. Norris, a deputy Los Angeles district attorney, said outside the courtroom, “The judge did the right thing.” It was a “horrendous” crime, he said.
According to probation and psychiatric reports, Franc as a child felt deprived of emotional and physical love from his parents.
A one-time first lieutenant in the Army, Franc is a professed lifelong homosexual. He taught at Boston University and the City University of New York before arriving at Cal State Fresno in 1969 to teach political science.
Court documents said Franc considered himself “a moral homosexual” for whom love was more important that promiscuous sex. But probation officer William C. Nienhuis estimated that Franc may have had “thousands of gay males” as lovers. The victim, Tracy L. Nute, an 18-year-old runaway from Kansas City, was a male prostitute.
He also noted that Franc “has a temper which is not often seen.”
Deputy Los Angeles Public Defender Max Kaiserman sought to establish in the trial that Franc had only rented the chain saw and that a person named Terry Adams had committed both the murder, with a handgun bought by Franc, and the dismemberment. Adams never surfaced during the trial, and Norris contended that Franc had acted alone.