A Tallahassee man accused of ramming his truck into a Tallahassee mosque is now on trial in federal court. Charles Franklin admits he did that, but testimony Wednesday focused on "why."
Perhaps the most damaging words of all came out of Franklin’s own mouth. We must warn you some of the language is offensive.
Within an hour of his arrest Franklin admitted to police that he drove his pick up into the mosque.
Sgt. Bill Bierbaum interviewed him that night, and Wednesday, federal prosecutors played that confession tape for the jury. On it, a man who is alternately calm, angry and sobbing.
On the tape, Franklin calls Islam, “a dumbass religion.”
He told investigators that if a Muslim had been in the mosque that night, he would have "beat his ass and pounded his face and left."
He even told them he'd considered buying propane tanks to blow up the mosque, but resisted the temptation. Members of the mosque who sat listening in the courtroom Wednesday were stunned by the strong words on tape.
Yet Franklin’s attorney contends his client's rage that night was fueled by a fight with his wife. He said Franklin was in a tailspin, drinking heavily and failing to take his medication for depression and anxiety for months on end.
A psychologist testified that Franklin had symptoms of schizophrenia and depression, but the judge ruled that testimony inadmissible.
Franklin is expected to take the stand in his own defense on Thursday.
Franklin's attorney claims civil rights law makes a distinction between targeting folks because of their religion "Islam" and targeting them because of their race "Arab." He’ll put on the bulk of his defense Friday.