Cold Murder Case Gets A Bit Warmer


Accused killer Gordon Francis, 57, made a court appearance on Thursday for a hearing on second-degree murder charges in the 1993 stabbing death of a Chelsea resident.

James Hawkins’s body was found with stab wounds in his apartment; and his death remained a cold case for nineteen years until Francis was indicted in 2012.

Escorted by Manhattan State Supreme court officers, Francis appeared wearing handcuffs, a beige prison suit with a yellow tag attached under his left arm, and a white t-shirt peeked through the V-neck of the suit; he sported a mostly salt and pepper beard matching the black and white in his hair.

Francis appeared calm as he sat awaiting the lawyers who approached the judge’s podium upon entering the room. After about a two-minute meeting the lawyers were back at their desks; and Justice Melissa C. Jackson’s decided to adjourn Francis’ hearing to December 3.

Out on parole in 1993 after serving ten years on an 8 to 16 years sentence for a rape and robbery conviction in 1983, Francis was accused of striking again; this time of killing Hawkins, stabbing him 25 times in the neck, chest, and abdomen; leaving him for dead.

He would later be convicted of criminal trespassing in 2008, an offense considered DNA-eligible, thanks to a 2006 addition of lower-level offenses requiring those convicted of such crimes to provide DNA samples.

Cold case investigators interviewed witnesses again, after a DNA match was discovered in 2010; using an anal swab from Hawkins, they discovered a mixture of DNA from both Francis and Hawkins.

Francis is a registered sex-offender until his next hearing. hH could face life in prison for Hawkins’s murder.