a man standing in front of a desk holding a cell phone
Franklin Tyrone Tucker represents himself during his trial in January. GWEN FILOSA/Keys Weekly

A Monroe County judge issued an arrest warrant for the suspect in the 2017 murder of 59-year-old Matthew Bonnett on Stock Island, a case that became known as the “treehouse murder,” for the open-air location where a woman was living at the time.

Franklin Tyrone Tucker, 52, has fended off prosecutors since then, and walked out of court in January on bond after a hung jury. He has been free after posting a $2 million bond in 2019.

But on May 3, Tucker was arrested and booked into the Multnomah County jail in Portland, Oregon, after court officials said he violated the conditions of his pretrial release by missing a scheduled urinalysis test for alcohol. His bond is set at $3.1 million. 

Tucker has been living in Oregon while awaiting a second trial in Monroe County. He’s due to appear at the courthouse in Key West at 1:30 p.m. on June 17. 

The Monroe County State Attorney’s Office wants to bring Tucker to trial for a second time. 

“A man’s life was lost and he was involved in it,” prosecutor Joe Mansfield told Keys Weekly. “He needs to be held accountable for it. Several jurors believed in the evidence.”

On April 30, Monroe County Judge James W. Morgan III signed an arrest warrant based on a pretrial services officer’s report that Tucker had missed a random urinalysis test he’s required to take for alcohol on April 10. 

Morgan set the $3.1 million bond. 

“I know it’s most likely a trap, even if it is and while I have a bad feeling about it, I’d rather walk in like a man than be drug in like a dog,” Tucker posted on Facebook, with regard to the newly issued warrant requiring him to return to Monroe County, where State Attorney Dennis Ward’s office wants to try him again for the murder.. 

After a series of tabloid-style twists in the murder case, Tucker became the story.

He married a woman who’s a regular item in the New York Post’s Page 6 society column, and with her help posted a $2 million bond. And after Court TV’s gavel-to-gavel livestream coverage of his January trial in Key West, Tucker became a minor cause célèbre with an online following.

Tucker represented himself at court. And while his amateur lawyering frustrated prosecutors, he placed sufficient doubt in at least one juror’s mind to dodge conviction. 

Monroe County Judge Mark Jones declared a mistrial after jurors couldn’t reach the required unanimous decision.

The jury had one holdout who refused to change her mind that Tucker was not guilty, according to a juror who spoke with Keys Weekly. 

Deliberations began and ended on the same day, with a majority of the jurors voting guilty. A couple had questions. 

The juror told Keys Weekly that in the end, it was the holdout whose refusal to budge led to the hung jury. 

Judge Jones disqualified himself from the case on Jan. 29 and the court assigned it to Morgan. 

Monroe County State Attorney Dennis Ward’s office wants a judge to place a gag order on Tucker, citing his regular Facebook posts and videos on his YouTube channel, where he discusses his case and accuses prosecutors and the sheriff’s office of misconduct.

Gwen Filosa
Gwen Filosa is The Keys Weekly’s Digital Editor, and has covered Key West news, culture and assorted oddities since she moved to the island in 2011. She was previously a reporter for the Miami Herald and WLRN public radio. Before moving to the Keys, Gwen was in New Orleans for a decade, covering criminal courts for The Times-Picayune. In 2006, the paper’s staff won the Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news and the Public Service Medal for their coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. She remains a devout Saints fan. She has a side hustle as a standup comedian, and has been a regular at Comedy Key West since 2017. She is also an acclaimed dogsitter, professional Bingo caller and a dedicated Wilco fan.