Inmate indicted in Florida prison guard's killing

Published On: May 04 2012 02:29:51 PM EDT   Updated On: May 04 2012 02:39:30 PM EDT
LAKE CITY, Fla. -

An inmate serving two life sentences for murder and robbery has been indicted for killing a north Florida prison guard.

A grand jury on Thursday indicted Richard Franklin on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and possession of contraband.

The Daytona Beach man could face a death sentence if convicted of murdering 24-year-old Sgt. Ruben Thomas on March 18 at Columbia Correctional Institution near Lake City.

Thomas was stabbed in the neck with a handmade weapon. A second guard was treated and released from a hospital after being injured in the attack.

Franklin was convicted of murdering 25-year-old Bethune-Cookman University student Gregory Roper in 1994.

He also received life for robbing an elderly man and 30 years for shooting the victim, who survived.

"The indictment of the inmate allegedly responsible for the death of Corrections Sgt. Ruben Thomas brings his family and loved ones one step closer to justice," Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. "Our criminal justice system must ensure justice prevails for victims of crime, especially our law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day in order to protect Floridians. My thoughts and prayers remain with Sgt. Thomas' family and fellow officers during this challenging time."

"This tragedy, the homicide of Correctional Officer Sgt. Ruben Thomas, will always resonate with me and all the members of the Florida Department of Corrections," DOC Secretary Ken Tucker said in a statement. "Correctional officers play an invaluable role in maintaining public safety and are an integral part of our criminal justice system. Their chosen profession puts them in harm's way on a daily basis for the protection of our communities."

To donate to Thomas' family's trust fund, go to CorrectionsFoundation.org.