By Marice Richter
FORT WORTH, Texas (Reuters) - A former Fort Worth police officer who had served 21 years of a life sentence after being convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl was released from prison on Thursday after an appeals court order overturned his conviction because the victim lied.
Brian Franklin was released from the Tarrant County Jail on $10,000 bail. He had been convicted in 1995 for the sexual assault of the girl in the backyard of her home.
The Tarrant County District Attorney's office said it intends to retry Franklin, 56, for the crime, aiming to send him back to prison.
Franklin was convicted of rape largely on the testimony of the teenage girl, who claimed on the witness stand that she had never had sex before Franklin assaulted her.
She later admitted to authorities that before she was raped by Franklin, she had been sexually assaulted by her stepfather multiple times.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in April ruled the girl had perjured herself by saying she had never had sex before she claimed Franklin raped her, which deprived Franklin of a fair trial, prompting his release.
No DNA evidence has been presented in court that tied Franklin to the sexual assault.
"We believe he continues to be a dangerous individual, and will be prosecuting this case,” district attorney spokeswoman Samantha Jordan said in a statement.
Franklin has maintained his innocence and rejected a plea deal three years ago that would have allowed him to be released for time served.
"He wouldn’t agree to plead guilty to get out of jail,” said his attorney Dick DeGuerin of Houston.
"He is so adamant that he is innocent, that he stayed in prison for another three years," said DeGuerin, who has represented high-profile clients including former Republican Party Majority Leader Tom DeLay and suspected murderer Robert Durst.
The stepfather pleaded guilty to injury of a child and was sentenced to 10 years probation, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He has since died.
(Reporting by Marice Richter; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Rigby)