Florida Supreme Court Justices are weighing the appeal of a death row inmate convicted of killing a north Florida correctional officer a few years ago.
What’s not in dispute is Death Row Inmate Richard Franklin killing Columbia Correctional Institution officer Ruben Thomas, says Nada Carey—Franklin’s attorney.
What is, she says, is whether it was cold, calculated, premeditated murder. Carey says the evidence doesn’t suggest Franklin had any intention of killing Thomas. She adds the only thing on his mind was to stop Thomas from continually cursing at him and treating him badly.
“The issue here is what was his motive,” asked Carey. “This is a personal beef. This man was treating him in a humiliating way.”
But, some Supreme Court justices, like Peggy Quince, didn’t appear convinced.
“He obviously had some plan,” stated Quince. “You [Carey] yourself had said that the officer has now left the cell, and has gone down the steps. He [Franklin] now outfits himself with this homemade shank, follows the officer, stabs him, gets through this little door, and continues to stab him as he’s getting through the second door, he continues to stab him.”
But, Carey says the Justices need to take into account Franklin’s mental state, at the time—adding it was just supposed to be a scuffle.
“It’s reasonable for someone like Mr. Franklin—who has a 73 IQ, has the mental age of 13-year-old, he’s brain damaged, acts on impulse,” Carey replied. “The court’s well aware these are all the attributes of someone of his characteristics. This was impulsive. It was rash. He’s thinking I’m going to chase him down the hall, and he’s thinking ‘I got him.’”
But, Assistant Attorney General Patrick Delaney representing the state disagrees. He contends Thomas “carefully planned” the killing of Thomas.
“The fatal blow had been inflicted, and Sgt. Thomas falls to the ground…Franklin turns around to all the inmates gathered at the glass, and makes a throat-slashing motion with his right hand,” said Delaney. “That tells us his intent. His intent was to stab Sgt. Thomas until he thought he was dead. It was immediate, right afterwards. He wouldn’t have stopped stabbing him, until he fell. And, that’s exactly what happened.”
Meanwhile, the Justices also weighed the case of another death row inmate, convicted of fatally stabbing a woman in Escambia County. Willie Hodges, an Alabama man, is also a suspected serial killer.
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