From Christopher Goffard, the Los Angeles Times reporter and host behind the hit podcasts “Dirty John” and “Detective Trapp,” comes a new eight-episode true crime podcast, “The Trials of Frank Carson.” “The Trials of Frank Carson” is a story of power, politics and the law in California’s Central Valley. Frank Carson was Stanislaus County’s most controversial defense attorney, a wizard with juries and a courtroom brawler with an unapologetically caustic style. He racked up legal wins for decades. He was the terror of police and prosecutors, often accusing them personally of corruption. When a small-time thief disappeared, police — some of them Carson’s longtime adversaries — launched a massive investigation into a spectral underworld of street hustlers, junkies and snitches. Carson was charged with murder, accused of masterminding a conspiracy. It would be one of the longest criminal trials in California history, with the flinty veteran of so many courtroom wars on trial for his life. The Trials of Frank Carson was produced by the Los Angeles Times and Western Sound.
The lawyer and the thief | 1
Introducing Frank Carson, Stanislaus County’s most controversial defense attorney, famous for his high-profile courtroom victories and take-no-prisoners style. A longtime nemesis of local law enforcement, he is representing homicide defendants in the very courthouse where he is on trial for murder himself.
A disappearance | 2
When a young scrap-metal thief named Korey Kauffman vanishes, local police do not immediately show great interest. Then a parolee named Big Mike Cooley tells a story that gets their attention: Kauffman was last seen venturing onto Frank Carson’s property to steal some pipes. Authorities confront Carson and work to build a case against him.
The incredible evolving story of Robert Woody | 3
The discovery of Korey Kauffman’s remains gives the investigation new impetus, and a man named Robert Woody offers a methamphetamine-fueled “confession.” Threatened with the death penalty, he cooperates — and becomes the government’s star witness. But his story changes again and again.
Mugshots | 4
After a three-year investigation, Frank Carson and his co-defendants are arrested, accused of a complicated murder-and-coverup conspiracy. Among the accused are three men who worked for the California Highway Patrol. How did an attorney famous for his distrust of local cops stand accused of conspiring with three of them?
Prisoners | 5
Frank Carson and his co-defendants confront the charges against them. The government cites years of Carson’s supposedly authority-hating behavior and his “behavioral control issues.” Interviews and wiretap recordings explore how Carson’s wife and stepdaughter, an art student, came to be wrapped up in the case. And former California Highway Patrol Officer Walter Wells endures jail.
Prelim | 6
As a marathon preliminary hearing continues, the defendants face mounting pressure to climb aboard “the witness bus” and cut a deal. Frank Carson hits rock bottom, and offers his co-defendants a way out. The prosecution belatedly reveals a cache of undisclosed evidence — with major consequences.
To the reporter/narrator on a fantastic presentation on just how corrupt small minded people with power can get when their tiny little feelings get pushed in by a lawyer with full understanding in his responsibility to his unrelenting defense for his clients.
God, What an eye opener…Hope the “Investigators” Do jail time for their abuses….
I listened to Dirty John and was so impressed with Chris Goffard’s work, I sought out his other podcasts. I knew they’d be equally great, but this literally blew me away. Every detail was impeccably researched and all involved were given the opportunity to be heard. This story was told with such care and empathy, I felt I really got to know the people and place. It’s breathtaking to consider the costs — both market to non-market - of these events. From losses of livelihoods and possessions to losses of time (for all, including the jurors), sense of self, and sense of security. Not the least is the loss of health and life. I was so moved for Frank I would have offered him a kidney myself. To all involved, my heart goes out to you. I’m glad you had Chris to so thoughtfully share your stories. And to the LA Times: I’m now a subscriber, even though I live on the east coast. Superb reporting needs to be supported. Thanks to all involved.
A solid local listen
I am from Turlock, mere blocks from where some of these events took place. I have been following the case on and off over the years. It is good to have this all laid out. The case seemed nuts from the start, it just keep getting bigger and bigger. Now I know that we need a new DA in our county.