30-year Prison Sentence for Inmate Who Attacked Correctional Officer

by Office of the State Attorney 14th Judicial Circuit of Florida
Joshua Lawson Joshua Lawson

MARIANNA, FL – An inmate who critically injured a correctional officer by picking him up and throwing him to the concrete was sentenced to 30 years as a Prison Releasee Reoffender, State Attorney Larry Basford announced.

A jury took about two hours to find Joshua J. Lawson, 28, guilty of Aggravated Battery of a Law Enforcement Officer. The victim, CO Capt. Matthew Sanders, suffered a fractured hip when he was thrown from approximately 5 feet in the air to the ground on March 18, 2021. On April 7, 2021, while home recovering from his injuries, Capt. Sanders suffered an embolism and died.

The defendant was in the Graceville Correctional Facility serving a 10-year sentence for four 2016 offenses in Broward County – 2 counts of Robbery with a Deadly Weapon, 1 count of Attempted Robbery with a Deadly Weapon, and Grand Theft Motor Vehicle.

Circuit Court Judge Ana Maria Garcia issued the 30-year sentence. She also ordered that it not begin until the defendant has completed his current prison sentence.

Jackson County Chief Prosecutor Shalla Jefcoat called 6 witnesses and presented evidence showing that on March 18, 2021, the defendant was verbally disrespectful to staff and refusing to follow rules and staff orders.

The defendant refused orders to submit to handcuffs. Testimony showed the defendant swung at Capt. Sanders when he attempted to apply hand restraints. During the ensuing struggle, the defendant was able to grab Capt. Sanders by the lower torso, pick him up and throw him to the concrete.

Other correctional staff then subdued the defendant.

Basford said his prayers remain with Capt. Sanders’ family and loved ones. He thanked all the staff at the Correctional Facility for the work they do, and the Florida Department of Corrections for its investigation.