ILNews

Court upholds enjoined counts

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Court of Appeals affirmed a defendant's convictions and sentence for murder and drug possession, saying he waived his right to appeal his denied motions for mistrial because he failed to raise the points properly during his trial.

In David Mark Frentz v. State of Indiana, No. 59A05-0610-CR-559, Frentz raised four issues on appeal: whether the trial court committed reversible error in enjoining and then denying his motions to sever the drug possession counts from the murder count; whether the trial court abused its discretion in denying Frentz's motions for mistrial; whether the trial court abused its discretion in imposing consecutive sentences; and whether Frentz's sentence is inappropriate in light of the nature of the offenses and his character.

Frentz was convicted of murdering his housemate Zackary Reynolds and of Class C felony methamphetamine possession, Class C felony cocaine possession, and Class D felony marijuana possession.

Frentz's doctor told him he needed to quit drinking, and the doctor gave Frentz medication to help him quit. Frentz quit drinking cold turkey that day. That same day, Frentz started to feel bad, called a friend, and told him he had been hallucinating.

Sometime between that night and the next morning, Frentz had shot Reynolds three times and drove down his road several times at a high rate of speed to make it look like multiple vehicles were fleeing his home. Frentz later called 911 and told police he was being robbed and someone else shot Reynolds. Frentz was arrested.

At Frentz's home, police saw marijuana in plain view and got a search warrant for the house where they found nearly 40 grams of marijuana, and cocaine and methamphetamine residue.

While in jail, Frentz told two inmates multiple stories about what happened that night to get their approval on which story to claim was real. During Frentz's trial, he filed a motion to sever the drug charges from the murder count, which the trial court granted in part by severing two other counts. Frentz was convicted and sentenced to 55-years for murder and four years on the drug counts to be served consecutively for a total of 59 years.

Judge Terry Crone wrote in the opinion that no Indiana cases outline a standard of review for a claim raised pursuant to Indiana Code section 35-34-1-9(a)(2), which states offenses may be sufficiently "connected together" to justify joinder if the state can establish the crimes are linked by the same motive. Frentz's motions to sever was technical misjoinder, saying the murder and drug counts were not based on the same conduct to constitute a single scheme. Judge Crone wrote that even if the court were to follow Frentz's recommendation that it follow federal precedent on the matter, it would find any error by the trial court denial to be harmless.

The trial court did not error in denying Frentz's motions for mistrial. Frentz waived his right to appeal the denial of a mistrial following redacted statements mentioned in court because he failed to make contemporaneous objections to the prosecutor's statements about the redacted information. Twice Frentz refused the trial court's offer to admonish the jury after he asked for a motion for mistrial, so Frentz also waived his right to appeal these denials.

In terms of his sentence, the court found no error in the trial judge's process to impose consecutive sentences in this case and given Frentz's character and nature of his offenses, his 59-year sentence is appropriate.
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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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