Greenwood, MS – District Attorney Dewayne Richardson announced today that with a jury waiting in the courtroom to begin the trial of his case, Vonta Franklin, 21 yoa, of Greenwood, pled guilty to Second-Degree Murder in front of Senior Circuit Judge Ashley Hines on August 1, 2023.
On September 23, 2020, deputies with the Leflore County Sheriff Department responded to a call of a body found in Brazil Homes. After identifying the body as Michael Givens, deputies began their investigation and interviewed multiple people in order to determine what happened to Givens and who might have wanted to kill him. That investigation led them to his friend, Vonta Franklin, who later confessed to shooting Givens.
Franklin was later indicted by the Leflore County Grand Jury for First Degree Murder and chose to plead guilty to the lesser-included offense of Second-Degree Murder. Under Mississippi law, Second Degree Murder carries a minimum sentence of twenty (20) years and a maximum of forty (40) years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Judge Hines sentenced Franklin to the State’s recommendation of 35 years with the Mississippi Department of Corrections with 30 of those years to be served in prison and the last 5 years to be served on post-release supervision. Under Mississippi law, Franklin will serve every day of his sentence without any opportunity for early release or parole.
Michael Givens’ mother, Treva Stigler, spoke to the Court before Franklin was sentenced. In her emotional statement, she stated how appreciative she was of the hard work that Investigator Michael Baldwin with the Leflore County Sheriff’s Department put into this case to follow all the leads to find her son’s killer and to bring him to justice.
The case against Franklin was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Amanda Sturniolo Langford and Stanly Alexander. Langford stated: “I am so proud of the work that Investigator Baldwin and all the deputies with the Leflore County Sheriff Department put into this case. I know that as Mrs. Treva said, closure for her and Michael’s family may never come, but I hope that they are comforted in knowing that Michael’s killer has been brought to justice and that they can now truly start the healing process.”