Eastpointe man pleads guilty in triple murder case

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published January 26, 2016

 Defense attorney Steven Kaplan discusses why his client, Timothy Fradeneck, left, qualifies for a plea of “guilty but mentally ill.”

Defense attorney Steven Kaplan discusses why his client, Timothy Fradeneck, left, qualifies for a plea of “guilty but mentally ill.”

Photo by Kevin Bunch

Eastpointe man Timothy Fradeneck, 38, pleaded “guilty but mentally ill” in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens Jan. 25 to charges that he murdered his wife and two children.

Fradeneck made the plea to first-degree murder charges and first-degree child abuse charges at an evidentiary hearing before Judge Diane Druzinski. His sentencing is scheduled for March 1; the sentencing for the murder charges is life without parole, while the child abuse charges can see a number of years up to life in prison.

“I’ve been thinking about this since late November,” Fradeneck said. “I’ve had time to think about it.”

Forensic psychologist Michael Abramsky testified at the hearing that based on a Department of Health and Human Services forensics report and police statements — as well as Abramsky’s own interview with Fradeneck in November — Fradeneck showed signs of being mentally ill at the time of the murders, but that Fradeneck did not exhibit signs of insanity.

“He was clinically depressed when he committed the crimes,” Abramsky said. “He had not been in treatment and was not medicated at the time these things occurred. Psychological testing done at the forensic center was indicating that he has a significant depression disorder.”

Since Fradeneck could still reason and knew the difference between right and wrong, he did not meet the requirements in the law for being insane, Abramsky added.

Of the plea, defense attorney Steven Kaplan said that Fradeneck was feeling remorseful about the murders and that they knew they had no chance of winning a trial once doctors determined Fradeneck was not insane at the time of the murders. As such, Kaplan said that Fradeneck wanted to spare his family from hearing the case’s details.

“Setting aside remorse and empathy, he had zero chance of prevailing in a trial,” Kaplan said. “His family would have had to learn the gruesome details.”

The plea requires that prison personnel continue to help Fradeneck with his mental health issues, Kaplan said.

Fradeneck said at the hearing that he currently is on antidepressants and mood stabilizers. Abramsky said that in his interview with Fradeneck, Fradeneck said he was a “different person” now.

Kaplan said the plea might also help Fradeneck down the line with prison placement. Kaplan said that his client eventually could be found stable enough to move from a maximum-security prison to a medium-security prison.

Prosecutor Bill Cataldo said the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office had no issues with the plea.

According to police testimony last year in the 38th District Court, Fradeneck murdered his family members in their beds the night of April 13 by strangling each of them with a USB cord. When police arrived the next day on a health and welfare call, Fradeneck initially told police that his wife and children were “sleeping” before admitting they were dead, according to the testimony.

Officers found his wife, Christie Fradeneck, 37; son, Timothy Fradeneck, 8; and daughter, Celeste Fradeneck, 2, dead in their beds, and took the defendant into custody.