This morning, 33rd Circuit Judge Roy C. Hayes III sentenced Matthew Mark Fruge, 34, of Boyne City to 10 to 15 years in prison on a charge of voluntary manslaughter. This sentence was the maximum sentence Hayes could have given and means that Fruge will be eligible for parole in 10 years.
Fruge was found guilty but mentally ill by a jury on December 8, 2016 following a two-week trial. He was charged with open murder and the jury rejected the prosecution’s request for a murder conviction as well as the defense’s request for a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict.
Counsel for both sides and the judge indicated they believed that the jury had rendered a “compromise verdict” unable to agree unanimously on a murder conviction or an acquittal due to insanity.
At the sentencing hearing, the Court heard from the victim, Jacob Conklin’s wife and mother and a slide show of photographs of Conklin was shown. Conklin’s wife read letters written by Conklin’s four children.
Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof asked the Court for the maximum sentence primarily for public safety reasons, saying that Fruge was a dangerous person due to his combination of mental health and substance abuse issues.
Hayes agreed, saying that Fruge’s substance abuse was a contributing factor leading to Conklin’s death. The judge indicated that the evidence showed that even with his mental health issues, Fruge had shown that he could function successfully in society when he was clean and sober.
The guilty but mentally ill conviction means that during Fruge’s sentence, he will receive mental health treatment from the Michigan Department of Corrections and also from the Department of Mental Health if it is deemed appropriate.
Fruge’s attorney, Bryan Klawuhn, asked the Court to impose a five-year minimum sentence based upon Fruge’s mental health history and argued that substance abuse had nothing to do with Conklin’s death.
In passing sentence, however, Hayes stated that he believed, based upon the evidence at trial, that Fruge had suffered a psychotic break caused by his mental illness exacerbated by the use of illegal drugs.