Life sentence for Hart may be 18 years+
Frank Hart of Clinton was sentenced May 23 to life in prison for driving a vehicle in which another man was killed in early 2017, but he may have to serve less than 19 years.
Hart, who was 18 at the time of the crime and is now 19, pled guilty without trial March 1 to two felony counts connected to the auto crash and to two other felonies stemming from a clash with Custer County sheriff’s officers while he was in jail. Special District Judge Donna Dirickson sentenced him to life on one count of first-degree murder while eluding an officer but suspended all the time except for 22 years.
She sentenced him to five years on one count of knowingly concealing stolen property, to five years on one count of battery/assault and battery on a police officer, and to two years for prisoner placing body fluid on a government employee. However, the time on all those was ordered to run concurrently with the 22 years for the auto crash.
For certain crimes, including murder, Oklahoma has an 85-percent rule which means a person must serve at least 85 percent of the time he or she is assessed. In this case, 85 percent of 22 years is 18.7, so Hart would have to serve that before being eligible for parole.
He was driving a 2005 Infinity sport utility vehicle stolen in Oklahoma City when he tried to elude two Clinton police detectives on ice-covered streets on Jan. 6, 2017. The detectives were Capt. Mike Murley and 1st Lt. Ron McLemore, who along with Officer Shawn Blackowl first tried to stop the SUV just after it left the Trade Winds Inn in southwest Clinton. It eventually crashed into a tree at Hayes Avenue and S. Sixth Street.
Kasey Sankey, 31, of Hammon, was riding with Hart and was killed in the crash.
Even though Hart had no intention of killing Sankey, he was charged with first-degree murder since the death occurred while the accused was committing an illegal act.
Hart was himself severely injured in the mishap. Murley, who was driving the car the detectives were in, said they had lost sight of the fleeing SUV before it crashed.
In a letter written from his jail cell a month after the crash, the accused said he was the father of a six-month-old son and expressed regrets that he would not get to see him grow up. “It breaks my heart knowing that one day he could end up just like me,” he wrote.
In the letter he also expressed regrets that Sankey was killed and said he would gladly trade places with him if he could.
The additional charges added later were for fighting with a Custer County deputy sheriff while he was in jail and trying to take the officer’s taser, and for spitting blood and saliva on him.