Wiregrass family of manslaughter victim feels small sense of justice after jury decision

ENTERPRISE, Ala. (WDHN) — A recent ruling by a Coffee County jury found one man, originally charged with murder, guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter. The family of the victim says brings them a small sense of justice, but now they hope the suspect receives a maximum sentence for his crime.

A jury found Emmanuel Key guilty of manslaughter Friday for the death of security guard Stevie Franklin.

“Stevie was loved by his family,” Sister of Stevie, Shaentle Franklin said. “He was a loving father to his children, a loving son, a loving uncle, and a loving brother.”

Franklin was shot and killed during a fight between a large group of people at the Daleville Lounge on Daleville Avenue in Enterprise.

Key, who was identified as the suspect, was not arrested the morning of the shooting but was arrested weeks later by U.S. Marshals.

In the case, Key was originally charged with murder, but after three days in a courtroom, a jury found him guilty of manslaughter.

The jury decided from the evidence that they were given and what they heard in the courtroom that Key didn’t intend to kill Franklin that night in 2019 but instead found that Key, who had been drinking that night, recklessly caused the death of Franklin and lost control.

“According to the state law, it is some sense of justice,” Franklin said.

Normally the sentence for a manslaughter conviction in the state of Alabama is between 2-20 years in a state prison, but not in Key’s case.

Prosecutors say he has multiple prior convictions, with two of those coming from the state of Texas and the family says to their understanding the state will try to invoke the Habitual Offenders Act. This mandates life imprisonment without parole for persons convicted of a Class A Felony after having been previously convicted of any three felonies

“With him being incarcerated that is some sense of justice for us,” Franklin said.

The family of Stevie says he will be remembered for the kind of person he was to others and the legacy he left with his children.

“He’s missed immensely and is still loved greatly,” Franklin said. “We see impressions of him through his children.”

Key is scheduled to be sentenced in April.

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