10-year sentence for career criminal who fled Holmes deputy

BONIFAY – A man with a lengthy criminal history was found guilty by a Holmes County Jury of leading deputies on a high-speed chase has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and designated a Habitual Felony Offender , State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

Franklin Pierce Smith III, 54, of Bonifay, was found guilty of Fleeing or Attempting to Elude (High Speed or Reckless) on Feb. 27 by a Holmes County jury that deliberated for 15 minutes.

Holmes County Chief Prosecutor Jacob Cook sought to have Smith designated as a Habitual Felony Offender, as the Defendant has been to prison six times over the last 25 years. Circuit Court Judge Russell Roberts agreed to the designation last week and sentenced Smith to 10 years in prison. “To protect the citizens of Holmes County it is important that career criminals be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Career criminals need to know that Holmes County is not a place they need to live if they continue breaking the law.” stated Prosecutor Jacob Cook.

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At trial, Cook called Holmes County Sheriff’s Office deputies Rodger Young and Wade Strickland, and presented evidence proving the defendant fled after Young pulled him over for a traffic violation.

Testimony showed the defendant pulled over initially, but when asked to exit his vehicle, he instead drove off at a high rate of speed, almost hitting Deputy Roger Young in the process. The defendant ended up driving into a field before abandoning the vehicle and running into the woods, where he was captured a short time later.

Florida Department of Corrections records show the defendant most recently served a 4-year prison term and was released in October, 2021, about 15 months before his arrest in this case. He previously served prison terms for crimes ranging from grand theft and armed burglary, to sale of methamphetamine and resisting arrest with violence.

Basford thanked the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office for its work on the case.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at mike.cazalas@sa14.fl.gov, or call 850-381-7454.