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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