PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. – This is the first weekend Frank Gable will be free in almost 30 years. He was convicted in Oregon of killing Kansas City native Mike Francke.
Gable was exonerated after extensive work by public defenders and the Francke family.
Frank Gable stood beside his wife Friday morning. “We don’t really want to talk about the case or nothing, just glad to be out. I’m thankful to the judge for exonerating me.”
That’s likely the last time you’ll hear from Frank Gable. He spent 10,940 days – half his life – in the prison system for a crime he didn’t commit. Now, he just wants justice. To live the life he hasn’t had. To aid in that transition, a GoFundMe has been established. The family of Mike Francke started it.
“He called me last night.” Patrick Francke said, Michael’s older brother. He said Frank Gable told him. “‘We were driving home and I stopped and I had my first meal outside the prison’.”
Patrick continued his story. “And he said ‘I burned my mouth, because I’m not used to eating hot food.’ And he says, it was good, and there was a lot of it.” Patrick laughed loudly.
It’s not often a convicted killer talks with a victim’s family. Or that a family member will laugh at something that convicted killer said. But the Michael Francke – Frank Gable case has always been different.
“I’m tickled to death that the man’s out of jail,” Patrick said. “What I’ll be the happiest is when he’s declared not guilty.”
Patrick Francke agreed to meet FOX4 on the tree-shaded street where the Francke boys were raised in Prairie Village.
“This is where I grew up with Mike Francke. And this is where we spent some very happy times together.”
He listed off all his neighbors. He pointed at backyards and tall trees and told stories about each. “I couldn’t imagine a better childhood,” Patrick said.
Patrick was 3 1/2 years older than Michael. Both went to Rockhurst High School, through Mike was one of the first to graduate from the State Line campus.
Patrick was a proud older brother as he spoke of Mike.
“Very smart, very fun, oh he loved Halloween. He dressed up as Dracula every year. He loved the outdoors, he was an athlete in high school and college.”
Though he went to college in New Mexico and Virginia, he learned about justice in Prairie Village.
“He was very smart,” Patrick said about his brother. “He had dealt with criminals, either as an attorney general or a judge advocate at Long Beach Naval Station or deputy attorney general. He was a judge for four years, and then he ran the Department of Corrections. He knew the system and he knew the prisoners, and he knew the mentality – he knew how the whole thing worked.”
Michael worked in New Mexico, and then in Oregon 30 years ago. There, Patrick said, is where Mike “knew that he was in a mess up there. And it cost him his life. I firmly believe that.”
“He was stabbed to death,” Patrick said. But the Francke brothers always want justice. Through that pursuit, the brothers and public defenders found multiple inconsistencies in the case.
“I think he’d pursue this, you bet,” said Patrick about his brother and this case,
The Francke brothers pursued justice for their middle brother, and by extension, Gable. Now, they are one step closer to it.
“We can move on into the next phase, which is chasing the guys who are truly responsible for Mike’s murder.”
Because what they learned under those Prairie Village trees is that the pursuit of justice is for all.