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Court trial involving man in standoff in Tallahassee to end

Defendant took his life Friday morning
Posted at 4:24 PM, Aug 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-19 16:48:13-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A court trial involving a man who killed himself during a standoff with law enforcement will formally end.

According to the Office of the State Attorney Second Judicial Circuit of Florida, the trial case involving Frank Copson is set to end with a filing of a notice of abatement of prosecution.

The state attorney’s office said the state of Florida does not have the ability to prosecute a dead individual, which led to the filing of the abatement of prosecution.

The state attorney’s office noted it believed it had enough evidence for a conviction.

According to a news release provided by the state attorney’s office, Copson was on trial for two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation and one count of lewd and lascivious conduct for offenses that occurred when the first victim was between approximately 6 years old and 9 years old, while the second victim was between 6 years old and 15 years old.

Copson, who killed himself during a standoff with law enforcement at a residence located on the 2900 block Byington Circle in Tallahassee early Friday, is alleged to have engaged in the unlawful conduct with the two victims; one was a stepchild, while the other was a biological child.

The report notes that there was a delay in reporting the incident to law enforcement, but adds that both victims reported the incidents to their mother.

The report notes that the mother dismissed the victims’ accusations and did not alert law enforcement. Years later when the oldest victim exited the home, the oldest victim took over guardianship of the younger victim.

When the victims were out of the home and away from the defendant was when the victims provided information about the incidents to authorities.

The trial began Monday with jury selection and the defendant was present in court.

Thursday morning when the jury was set to hear the evidence portion of the trial, Copson did not appear in court.

A no bond warrant for failure to appear at a mandatory court date was issued. The report notes the trial was delayed seeing if Copson could be located.

It was discovered that Copson had fled his home earlier Thursday with a gun and he left behind a note indicating his desire to avoid serving time in jail and apologizing to his family.

The U.S Marshals, the Tallahassee Police Department and the state attorney’s office coordinated to locate the defendant for his and his family’s safety.

The report notes because the defendant willfully failed to appear at trial in an attempt to evade prosecution, the trial was conducted without his presence in accordance with Florida law, while efforts to find him continued.

The state attorney’s office presented the majority of its case Thursday and had witness testimony while the search for Copson was ongoing.

The report notes by 3 p.m. Thursday, Copson returned to his residence and attempts to communicate with him failed with Copson threatening to take his life, while barricaded in the residence.

After an 11-hour standoff with law enforcement officials, Copson, age 62, took his life early Friday.

The trial was set to continue Friday with the anticipation of deliberation to begin.