Related topics

Defense Rests In Chain-Saw Murder Case

June 20, 1988

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The defense rested in the chain-saw murder trial of a former professor Monday after his sister testified he was ″a sissy″ as a child and had little dexterity with tools.

Max Bernard Franc, a former Fresno State University professor charged in the murder and chain-saw dismemberment of a teen-age prostitute, showed no reaction as his sister, Carol Waiters, told jurors of Franc’s childhood.

″Since he was a young child, he had a tendency to avoid any kind of confrontation at all,″ she said. ″The neighborhood boys used to taunt him. ... He was frightened of any physical contact and he was considered a sissy.″

Mrs. Waiters, a social worker from Philadelphia, said the same tendencies persisted in his adulthood.

She also said her brother wasn’t good with tools.

″He’s very clumsy when it comes to anything mechanical,″ she said.

Several of Franc’s witness have stressed his clumsiness as defense attorney Mark Kaiserman tried to show that the professor was incapable of wielding a powerful chain saw to dismember the body of Tracy Nute, an 18-year-old runaway from Kansas City, Mo., whose body was found in pieces scattered across 200 miles of California.

The prosecution contends that Franc murdered Nute and dismembered the body to avoid detection.

Franc, 58, a native of DePere, Wis., who taught public administration at Fresno until his arrest last August, contends that another man he named as Terry Adams shot Nute and chopped up the body in Franc’s apartment. But Adams has not been found.

After resting his case, Kaiserman moved for dismissal of the first-degree murder charge against Franc, saying that the prosecution had failed to show evidence of premeditation.

Deputy District Attorney Sterling Norris said Franc’s purchase of a gun before the killing is sufficient proof of premeditation as was the nature of the killing itself.

Superior Court Judge John Reid declined to dismiss the charge.

Update hourly