D.O.C. officials said there had been a call through the intercom system for an inmate that indicated he wanted to see an officer. Rather than call for another officer to go down there and handle this situation, Sgt. Thomas responded there himself. Another correctional officer in the control room saw Franklin chase and then stab Sgt. Thomas several times in the neck. Investigators believe that when Sgt. Thomas realized he was in danger he tried to get away, but it was too late.
Franklin assaulted and injured another guard too. This other officer, William Brewer, 54, was trying to lock down inmates when the subject Franklin attacked him with a sock which had been filled with something very heavy. Before being subdued he struck Officer Brewer in the eye. Officer Brewer was treated at a local hospital, and then released. He apparently suffered a broken orbital bone, but with additional medical treatment he is expected to recover.
Sgt. Thomas was transported to Shands Lake Shore Hospital in Lake City, where he died. He was a six-year veteran, had a young daughter and was engaged to be married. His fiancée is pregnant with their second child.
The investigation is being handled by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (F.L.D.E.), which D.O.C. officials indicate is normal procedure.
What do we know about the man who brutally murdered Sgt. Ruben Thomas? Well, the subject Franklin, 37, had been charged, convicted and then sentenced to life in prison for --- guess what? Murder! Franklin, who apparently hails from the Daytona Beach area, is serving two life sentences for first-degree murder and robbery with a firearm. Both of these crimes occurred in Volusia County in 1994 and he was received by the D.O.C. in 1995.
If that other jury had recommended the death penalty, then Franklin would have been on death row at Raiford, and Sgt. Ruben Thomas would still be alive today. According to the Florida Supreme Court web site 12.68 years is the average length of stay on Florida's death row prior to an inmate being executed. And 14.29 years is the average number of years between the offense taking place and then execution. Because Franklin began his incarceration back in 1995 (about 17 years ago), it seems a safe bet that Franklin would have been executed by now, and no longer a threat to anyone.
This case involving the murder of Sgt. Thomas is a perfect example of why we still need the death penalty. Most people in America are good and decent individuals, but unfortunately, there are still those extremely violent few, like Richard Franklin, who are real monsters. Shakespeare once wrote, "Hell is empty and all the devils are here." I firmly believe that Shakespeare was talking about evil and wicked men like Richard Franklin.
If Franklin is found guilty of the murder of Sgt. Thomas, will his jury recommend he get life without parole again? I hope not. If he once again gets life, what's to prevent him from again attacking and murdering another corrections officer? Nothing! It reportedly costs an average of $53.35 a day, or $19,473 per year, to house an inmate in the Florida prison system. Franklin needs to be executed!!!! Let's save some money, and maybe even the life of another corrections officer.
Florida Governor Rick Scott said in a statement, "It is always troubling when members of our law enforcement community lose their lives in the line of duty. These brave men and women dedicate themselves each day to ensure Florida is a safe place to live. We all need to remember the sacrifices and heroic efforts of our officers."
If you prefer to make a cash or check donation instead, please send it to:
Attention: Sgt. Thomas Fund
501 South Calhoun Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2500
Checks should have "Sgt. Thomas Fund" written in the memo section.
The stated goal for the fund is $40,000, but thanks to the kind generosity of many caring individuals, the fund to date has almost reach the $26,000 mark. I began following this tragic case shortly after it happened, and although I've been side-tracked for several weeks because of my own medical issues I had to deal with, I've now written my own check and sent it off to the Sgt. Ruben Thomas Benefit Fund.
Won't you please do the same.
Fort Lauderdale Police Department