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Bozeman man pleads guilty in stabbing death of father

Posted at 11:16 AM, Oct 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-23 19:00:17-04

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.

We will update this developing story with any new information we receive.