An accused meth-driven girlfriend bloody slasher will be back on the stand in his murder trial Thursday after he insisted he can’t recall “cutting her throat.”
He also told jurors that his live-in girlfriend sanctioned his drug use at their home for sex purposes.
Michael John Franco, 46, is accused of cutting the throat of Jill Grant with a box cutter, then running her over with her Toyota Prius after the box cutter attack failed to kill her. Her body was found at the Golf Club at Terra Lago in the desert city of Indio some miles east of Palm Springs in the early morning hours of Dec. 23, 2013.
Franco testified Wednesday in his trial at the Indio courthouse that his memory is “fuzzy” for a period of nearly 24 hours starting from the night of Dec. 22, 2013, until the following evening.
“It’s almost impossible for me to put it together,” he testified. “I wrack my brain over it all the time.”
Franco said that on Dec. 22, Grant asked him to shoot up methamphetamine because it allowed him to perform longer sexually, despite his addiction causing other issues in their relationship.
Franco claimed she gave him drugs when he said he had none, and that after injecting two or three “shots,” he received a text message from a friend that led to a violent argument.
Franco’s friend asked for his drug dealer’s phone number, which Franco said angered Grant because they had an agreement for him to only use methamphetamine in the house, due to his history of addiction.
A night-long argument ensued, which included her suggesting that they end the relationship, he stated.
However, he testified that his memory of the following events only allowed him bits and pieces, but said he remembered her bleeding and asking him to clean up her blood that had collected on the floor.
“I don’t remember cutting her throat,” Franco testified.
His next recollection was being at a friend’s home in Palm Desert the following night, he said.
Franco also testified not remembering several other events alleged by prosecutors.
Among those include his and Grant’s statements in an apparently inadvertent voice message to his friend’s cellphone, which the friend claimed sounded like “a female begging for her life” on the call.
In the recording, Grant appears to be telling Franco that they should call police and report that she was attacked by someone else.
He allegedly responded that he would take her to a hospital and call 911, at which point Grant responds by saying, “Wait until I can think of another idea. What if I drive the car someplace and call myself and say I was attacked? Would that work (inaudible).”
He also claimed to not remember driving the Prius to an Indio gas station shortly after the body’s discovery, where surveillance footage captured a man that strongly resembled Franco removing brush and plants from the bumper area, then wiping something off the wheel with a rag.
Deputy District Attorney Kristi Kirk countered that it was unreasonable to believe that Grant would support him using methamphetamine after she spent extensive time ensuring Franco stay sober, including by supporting his trips to rehab and drug testing him at their home.
“At what point in the relationship did she change her tune and say to hell with sobriety, I want marathon meth sex?” Kirk asked.
Franco conceded that “It does seem a bit outrageous,” but did not recant his statements.
Franco testified that in addition to sexual uses, Grant was “fascinated” by the “ritual” of methamphetamine use, but did not deny that she also regularly encouraged his sobriety.
Kirk also brought forth text messages stemming from two incidents in which Franco stole money from her. Grant reproaches him in the messages, saying that her paycheck will be lighter as a result and asking him if this was how he acted when he got high.
Franco admitted that his behavior was “deplorable,” but said he did not recall if he had taken the money for drugs.
A popular Palm Desert math teacher, Grant grew up in the Santa Rosa Mountains above Palm Springs and attended Palm Desert Middle School and Palm Desert High School, graduating in 1990.
She attended College of the Desert, then transferred to Cal State San Bernardino, where she majored in mathematics. She taught math at Palm Springs High School for three years, starting in 1995, then began teaching at her alma mater in 1998.
Franco’s testimony will resume Thursday morning.
He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of murder, with special circumstance allegations of inflicting torture and committing the murder in the commission of a kidnapping.
–City News Service
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: