Fradeneck gets life sentence for killing wife, children

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 8, 2016

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MOUNT CLEMENS — Eastpointe resident Timothy Fradeneck was sentenced in Macomb County Circuit Court March 1 to life in prison without parole, which followed a plea in which he accepted guilt for the 2015 murders of his wife, Christie Fradeneck, 37, and two children, Tim, 8, and Celeste, 2.

Fradeneck, 38, received five life sentences without parole and two sentences of 18-30 years; he had a total of seven charges brought against him, including first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse. The sentences will run concurrently.

He pleaded “guilty but mentally ill” during a circuit court hearing Jan. 25. Fradeneck’s attorney, Steven Kaplan, said his client was mentally ill at the time of the murders, though not to a degree that he was found legally insane. Now getting treatment while in custody, Kaplan said Fradeneck wanted to spare his family the “gruesome details” of the murders by skipping a trial, as long as he could continue to get mental health treatment in prison.

According to police testimony last year in 38th District Court, Fradeneck used a USB cable to strangle his wife and children as they slept in their beds the night of April 13. 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.

Reading shakily from a prepared statement, Fradeneck told the court that he accepts responsibility for the killings, and that he asks for something the court cannot give him: forgiveness for taking the lives of his family members.

“In that moment I failed as a husband, as a father, as a son, as a brother, as a nephew, as a cousin, as an in-law, as a citizen, and as a member of the human race,” Fradeneck said. “I failed myself when I failed to protect my family from myself. I let the despair I felt in my head eclipse the love I felt in my heart.”

Fradeneck then apologized to friends and family members of himself and the victims, adding that their lives are poorer as a result of his actions, and that while he asks forgiveness, he would not hold it against them if they were unable to do so.

“(To the victims) I swear to this court that I will spend the rest of my life trying to effect change in this mental health system in your honor,” Fradeneck said.

Courtney Zanni, Christie Fradeneck’s sister, blasted the defendant in her emotional statement to the court, calling him a lazy and narcissistic man who contributed nothing to the household without her sister telling him to do it.

“Even though we never liked him, we accepted him,” Zanni said. “Killing my sister was the most ambitious thing he ever did.”

Zanni said her sister was on the verge of leaving Fradeneck and filing for divorce when the murders occurred, which Zanni believes was the catalyst for the killings. Zanni also accused him of hitting Christie Fradeneck prior to her death.

She said that her sister would not want the family to linger on those tragic events; as such, Zanni declared that from this point on, she would not even spare a thought for Fradeneck and his time in prison.

Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Cataldo echoed Zanni’s sentiments, arguing that this had less to do with mental health issues and more to do with Fradeneck’s wife potentially leaving him.

Judge Diane Druzinski said that words were “woefully inadequate,” but she did not think this case was necessarily the failing of the mental health system. Rather, she said, it was a failure on Fradeneck’s part to get assistance.

In a written statement by Zanni provided to the media after the sentencing, she encouraged friends and family, as well as the community at large, to stay positive and do good deeds as a way to help overcome the tragedy. She also thanked the prosecution team for its efforts.

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