BOZEMAN — On Tuesday, 37-year-old Tanner Franks of Bozeman entered a change of plea, admitting that he stabbed and killed his father, 72-year-old William "Bill" Franks, in November 2017.
In court proceedings Tuesday morning, District Court Judge Holly Brown said she was uncomfortable with the proposed "binding plea agreement." In a binding plea agreement, a defendant is permanently bound to the agreed sentence. The deal was amended during the proceedings.
After Judge Brown rejected the initial deal and amendments were made, Franks gave an emotional statement and pleaded guilty to mitigated deliberate homicide.
"I endured years of physical and emotional abuse," Franks said in court. "I lost my senses and stabbed [his father] to death with my knife. I sustained years of psychological, emotional and physical abuse at the hands of William Franks."
JUDGE: "You knowingly and purposefully caused the death of William Franks?"
FRANKS: "Yes, your Honor."
In a prepared statement, Franks claimed again that his father’s actions led to up to what happened: “William Franks was controlling and he became, at times, very physically abusive to me and to my family."
Which is not what he said in 2017. “Your Honor, I didn’t hurt anybody," Franks said during his initial in-custody appearance in Gallatin County Justice Court on November 22, 2017. "I don’t know why I’m here. My father’s alive.”
In court, Judge Brown said the court does not generally accept binding plea agreements and expressed her concern. "In general, I'm not going to accept a binding plea agreement so I may not accept it," Brown said. In the end, Judge Brown accepted Franks’ guilty plea, finding him guilty of mitigated deliberate homicide. A jury trial scheduled to begin February 3 has now been vacated, and Franks will appear for sentencing on Monday, December 16.
FROM NOVEMBER 22, 2017: