A former Oklahoma halfway house inmate has been charged in the deaths of a man and woman found shot to death inside a burning car in Ardmore.
In an exclusive jailhouse interview with The Frontier earlier this year, Carlton Franklin denied involvement in the slayings of Justin Ray Sullivan, 28, of Midwest City and Karlie Clearman, 23, of Ardmore.
On Thursday, The Carter County district attorney’s office charged Franklin, 32, with two counts of first-degree murder. Franklin is accused of shooting and killing Sullivan and Clearman with a .40-caliber firearm in November 2017.
At the time of the killings, Franklin and Sullivan were both AWOL from a Department of Corrections halfway house in Oklahoma City operated by the nonprofit Catalyst Behavioral Services. The state has since ended its contract with Catalyst for the facility after ongoing security problems there.
After Sullivan and Clearman’s deaths, Franklin returned to the Oklahoma City halfway house briefly before running away again and going on an alleged crime spree that included rape and armed robbery.
In March, Franklin was charged with first-degree rape in Oklahoma County. According to court records, Franklin allegedly raped a Del City woman at gunpoint four days four days after Sullivan and Clearman’s bodies were found in Ardmore.
The alleged rape was also first reported by The Frontier.
In an interview at the Tulsa county jail earlier this year, Franklin said he and Sullivan were able to leave the halfway house without being stopped by security on the night of Nov. 10, 2017 and walked to a couple of nearby clubs, where they ordered drinks.
Franklin said Sullivan had asked him to introduce him to some women. Franklin said he called Clearman to set her up with Sullivan.
The trio drove around the city for a while before Clearman dropped him off back at the halfway house and left, Franklin claims.
“We get in the car, and I’m really a third wheel,” Franklin said. “We drive for a little bit, and I’m like ‘just drop me off, I’ll call my girl. Whatever y’all are doing, go on and do that.’”
He said he called his girlfriend to pick him up after being dropped off.
Franklin told The Frontier he could not recall how long after 2 a.m. Clearman arrived at Catalyst to pick him and Sullivan up, approximately how long the three spent driving around Oklahoma City, or at what time Clearman dropped him off again at the halfway house. He said only that it was still dark outside when he was dropped off.
“We were both a little bit tipsy, so I’m not sure,” Franklin said. “I can’t recall.”
Later that morning, at 4:35 a.m., authorities discovered Clearman’s car on fire in the yard of an Ardmore home located about 103 miles away from the Catalyst halfway house — a drive of about 1 hour and 34 minutes, according to Google Maps.