Frank Choate to face trial in Marie Warren murder - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Frank Choate to face trial in Marie Warren murder

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LAPEER COUNTY (WJRT) -

(10/02/12) - Authorities are relying heavily on DNA to help convict Frank Choate.

He's charged in the October 2006 beating death of 86-year-old Marie Warren in Lapeer County. 

Court testimony Tuesday, during Choate's preliminary exam, revealed the DNA at the center of her murder case comes from just one hair.

"We have to request additional tests as we go along," explains D/Lt. Gary Parks with the Lapeer County Sheriff's Department.

He is the lead investigator on the Warren case.  Authorities believe she was killed during a break-in at her Deerfield Township home October 1, 2006.

Parks says, over the years, Michigan State Police kept processing additional evidence. 

Parks says they can only submit five samples at a time.

Warren had been beaten to death.  Her body was found about five miles away from her home.  Her fingers and thumbs were severed, but never recovered. 

"We kept asking them (MSP) to check more things," Park says.
 
The focus became bedding from Warren's bedroom where investigators determined she was killed.

"We kept asking them (MSP) to do an inch by inch increment on that sheet."

Parks says State Police notified him of a DNA match in July of 2011.

The hit led to Frank Choate, Parks says.  His DNA was already filed in the state system.

Choate, from Sandusky, was then charged with a number of crimes connected to a break-in at Warren's, but not murder until just recently.

A former Lapeer County Jail inmate, a Genesee County man who've we been asked to not identify, says Choate told him about the crimes, during a chess match, in May of this year. 

The former inmate says Choate, upset about a court proceeding, just started talking.  He say Choate mentioned three others and that they'd been riding around breaking into homes.  

He says Choate said they honed in on Warren's home because someone had once sold hay to her or to someone in the area.

The former inmate says Choate said when they broke into her home she awoke and one of the others got into a physical altercation with Warren.

"That's why the fingers was (sic) chopped off because of the possibility of skin being underneath there," he says.

The former inmate told another inmate and then a deputy who contacted Parks.

"It's a nasty crime.  He needs to be punished for it," says that former inmate when asked why he came forward with the information. 

Choate was bound over to circuit court, on one count of felony murder, after testimony Tuesday. 

It was one day after the six year anniversary of Warren's death.

"We're happy that it's moving forward and we're starting to get some answers," says Warren's daughter Janet Brace.

Several family members were in court Tuesday.

Choate had previously been bound over for trial on his other charges in the Warren case.

When cross examining Parks, Choate's attorney repeatedly questioned how much evidence was collected at the scene.  He asked if someone else could have transferred that one hair.

There was blood evidence at the scene, but Parks testified none match Choate.

Parks says there's no way anyone but Choate could have left the hair at the scene.  He pointed to the root being attached to the it.

Lapeer County Prosecutor Byron Konschuh says he will ask the court to consolidate the cases and just have one trial.

Authorities still urge anyone with information about Warren's murder to call them. 

Please call Parks, at the Lapeer County Sheriff's Department, at (810) 245-1382.

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