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52-year old truck driver tried as juvenile in 1976 New Jersey murder

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These undated photos show Carlton Franklin, right, and the victim Lena Triano. (The Star-Ledger)

A truck driver has been convicted of the brutal murder of a New Jersey woman more than three decades ago.

A judge in Union County convicted Carlton Franklin of murdering neighbor Lena Triano in her Westfield home in 1976.

Prosecutors say Triano was found tied, raped beaten and strangled in her home.

Franklin was arrested last spring after the prosecutor’s office’s cold case unit uncovered evidence that could be tested with modern techniques.

Since Franklin was 15-years-old at the time of the murder, prosecutors tried the 52-year-old in juvenile court, in accordance the laws in effect in 1976..

Because he was tried as a juvenile, prosecutors could not release his identity.

Law enforcement sources identified Franklin to NJ.com as prosecutors seek a judge's permission to officially release his name.

There is now reportedly a growing debate on his sentence, since he was tried as a juvenile.

He could face up to 20 years if sentenced as an adult, or face a maximum of 10 years in prison if sentenced as a juvenile, The New York Times reported. 

If sentenced as a juvenile, the sentence would typically revolve around how to best rehabilitate him. He has not committed a crime in more than fourteen years. 

“He got away with murder for 36 years and finally justice prevailed,” prosecutors told NJ.com after the verdict.

Franklin, who has spent two decades in prison for a separate kidnapping and robbery, has held a job as an oil truck driver since his release in 1999. 

"Why would he kill her? Why would you take a life when you can't give a life? Jesus, have mercy," Rosetta Franklin, his mother who is caring for his children told NJ.com.

"My baby boy was killed in '85. I know what that's like. I am so sorry for what he did. I am very sorry," she said.

His sister maintains his innocence.

Click for more from NJ.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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