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Man convicted in 2018 killing of beloved Zachary firefighter found guilty of manslaughter

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ZACHARY - After a week-long trial, a jury has found a man guilty of killing a "double hero" who worked as a firefighter and a reserve police officer.

A jury convicted Albert Franklin of manslaughter on Monday for killing Chris Lawton while evading arrest back in 2018. 

Officials said Lawton was carrying out a warrant in Baker when he encountered Franklin in a Walmart parking lot. Lawton confronted Franklin — wanted for allegedly beating his girlfriend with an AR-15 rifle a week earlier — while the suspect was sitting in a U-Haul truck outside the store. 

Franklin reportedly tried to drive away, pinning Lawton between the truck and a line of grocery carts before running him over. Franklin sped off, leaving Lawton behind as good Samaritans rushed to try and save the officer's life.

Franklin and another person inside the vehicle were later caught trying to hide the vehicle after a sprawling search by law enforcement.

"To me in my book, he was a double hero," Police Chief David McDavid said at the time. "He was a firefighter and a policeman. He served his community well and couldn't ask for a better employee on my end."

Franklin's sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 13. According to Louisiana law, "whoever commits manslaughter shall be imprisoned at hard labor for not more than forty years." 

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