SIERRA VISTA — After almost two years of challenges with her GPS monitor, a woman accused of manslaughter was released from the cumbersome apparatus on Monday by a Superior Court judge.
Court documents show that the situation with defendant Debra Charlotte Franco’s GPS monitor became so unmanageable the 68-year-old woman was in violation of her release conditions last year.
But it was found that Franco, who lives in Silver City, New Mexico, did not violate her release conditions after her attorney, David Wilkison, showed the court and the prosecution the numerous attempts Franco had made to reach out to GPS Monitoring AZ — the company that manufactures the monitor Franco had to wear — to no avail.
“For two years now, Ms. Franco has done everything that this court has asked of her,” Wilkison stated in a motion. “However, despite her good faith efforts, she is now in violation of her release conditions, through no fault of her own. The person who is 100% at fault is Ms. Lisa Penny,” Wilkison added.
Lisa Penny runs GPS Monitoring AZ, according to Wilkison’s motion.
Franco is charged with reckless manslaughter and negligent homicide in the death of Jesus Campoy of Douglas in August 2019. She had been in jail but was freed in January 2020 after Cochise County Superior Court Judge Laura Cardinal ordered that she be released and placed on a GPS monitor.
Authorities say Franco took a wrong turn onto State Route 80 from State Route 90 and as she was attempting a U-turn, Campoy tried to avoid Franco’s sport utility vehicle and struck a guardrail. The impact sent Campoy across the roadway. His car was then hit by another motorist, killing Campoy instantly. The other driver was injured, police said.
Investigators said Franco bolted from the crash scene and was later caught near Tombstone.
In a motion filed with the court in October, Wilkison detailed Franco’s travails with the GPS monitor.
The issues began in September 2020. The apparatus’ charging device was faulty. Franco tried repeatedly to contact Penny. She informed Wilkison of the monitor’s malfunction, and ultimately, the GPS died. In October 2020, the prosecution filed a motion stating that Franco had violated her conditions of release.
Wilkison said Penny then gave Franco a new GPS monitor and charging device.
Then in September, the new monitor went awry after the charging cord presented issues, Wilkison said in the motion. Franco and Wilkison called Penny, but could not leave a message because her voice mail was full, the motion shows.
Wilkison sent Penny a letter via facsimile explaining the situation. He said he received no response from Penny.
Eventually, the new GPS monitor died, the motion states.
On Sept. 27, Wilkison telephoned Penny again in the presence of a prosecutor and got Penny’s recording and a message that her voice mail was full. That’s when Wilkison filed the motion to modify Franco’s conditions of release, requesting that she be allowed to shed the GPS monitor and be placed on her own recognizance.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Herald/Review telephoned Penny and got the same message saying her voice mail was full. An email was sent to Penny, but the newspaper received no response.
Franco is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 22 for an expected change of plea proceeding.