San Tan Valley teen sentenced to life in prison for murder of another teen

(FLORENCE, AZ) - A San Tan Valley teen has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of another teen connected to the sale of a vape cartridge.

On June 22nd, 2023, Pinal County Superior Court Judge Daniel Washburn sentenced Joshua Franklin, 16, to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years, plus an additional 10.5 years.

In May, a jury found Franklin guilty of First Degree Murder, a Class One Felony and Burglary in the First Degree, a Class Two Felony. Franklin was tried as an adult.

In September 2021, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office responded to a fatal shooting at a home in San Tan Valley. The victim was identified as a 15-year-old boy who had been shot multiple times at close range and was found deceased in the front entrance of the home. Investigators learned the shooter left the scene wearing all black clothing and was also in possession of a motorized scooter with a seat. Investigators learned the victim was involved in selling vape cartridges, and they discovered Franklin was upset with what he thought was a defective cartridge purchased from the victim a few days prior. According to a witness, the victim and Franklin were set to meet on the day of the homicide to exchange the cartridge. Social media records revealed the victim had sent Franklin his home address shortly before the murder. Geo location data from Franklin’s cell phone and from social media both showed travel from Franklin's home to the victim’s home, remaining at the victim's home for 2-3 minutes, and then traveling back to Franklin's home on the day of the murder. The timing from the location data matched the timing of eye-witness accounts, the 911 call, the social media chats, and surveillance video obtained from a neighbor's home. Franklin matched the physical characteristics of the person dressed in all black with a black backpack who witnesses saw leaving the scene and was captured on the surveillance video. A scooter and backpack matching those seen in the video and described by witnesses was located in Franklin's bedroom closet.