After a day-long deliberations, jurors found Matthew Mark Fruge, 35, Boyne City guilty of voluntary manslaughter . That charge carries a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
Fruge was charged with open murder for the killing of Jacob Conklin on October 1, 2015 at Fruge’s home in Bay Township.
The trial began on November 28, featuring seven days of testimony from 15 witnesses, including experts in forensic pathology, forensic psychology and toxicology.
Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof presented 13 witnesses, laying out a case that showed Conklin was a friend of Fruge’s who had just arrived in Charlevoix County, from his Florida home, a day earlier, on September 30.
The two stayed up all night abusing drugs and the next day, Fruge took a butcher knife from his kitchen, went to his driveway and stabbed Conklin ten times in the neck, shoulder and head, severing both carotid arteries and the jugular vein. Conklin died within minutes according to the pathologist’s testimony.
Jurors heard from police officers as well as the victim’s wife and mother.
The defense theory was that Fruge, suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder resulting from two tours of duty in Iraq, had a psychotic and manic episode and was legally insane at the time of the offense. They acknowledged that Fruge had caused Conklin’s death. The prosecution countered the insanity defense with evidence that Fruge was intoxicated on a mixture of Ritalin, marijuana and Nyquil.
“This was a very difficult case for all concerned,” Telgenhof said. “These men were friends and their families knew each other. The jury had a lot of testimony to digest and a lot of options as far as a verdict, I thank them for their service. Hopefully this verdict will provide some closure for the families involved.”
“I also want to recognize the professionalism of the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Department, the Michigan State Police and the Boyne City Police Department all of whom were involved in the apprehension of the defendant, processing of the scene, collection and testing of the evidence and testimony at trial.”
Fruge will be sentenced on January 13, 2016 in the 33rd Circuit Court.