NewsCrime and Courts


Bozeman man sentenced for killing his father

Tanner Franks was sentenced on Monday to 50 years in prison
Tanner Franks
Posted at 4:59 PM, Dec 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 19:04:38-05

BOZEMAN — Tanner Franks of Bozeman was sentenced on Monday to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to the 2017 stabbing death of his father, William "Bill" Franks.

In court Monday, District Court Judge Holly Brown sentenced Franks to 40 years on the mitigated deliberate homicide charge, with another ten years added for the use of a weapon. Judge Brown ordered that none of the time be suspended, though Franks will get credit for 756 days already served.

Franks changed his plea in October after initially denying that he killed his father in November 2017.

(OCTOBER 22, 2019) On Tuesday, 37-year-old Tanner Franks of Bozeman entered a change of plea, admitting he stabbed his father, 72-year-old William "Bill" Franks to death 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," Franks added.

BROWN "You were doing and you knowingly and purposefully caused the death of William Franks?"

FRANKS "Yes, your Honor."

In a prepared statement, Franks said 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," Franks said.

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 Nov. 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.

BROWN "We'd be vacating that trial date if you enter a guilty plea today, you understand that?"

FRANKS "Yes, your Honor."

BROWN "And that's what you want to do?"

FRANKS "Yes, your Honor."

A ten-day jury trial set to begin Feb. 3 has been vacated, and Franks will appear for sentencing on Monday, Dec. 16.