Testimony begins in 2012 cold case of husband accused of suffocating his wife

Published: Apr. 16, 2018 at 5:43 PM EDT
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(4/16/2018) - Six years after a Flint woman's death, her husband has been accused of killing her.

Testimony began Monday in the case against 52-year-old Frank Bartels. Flint Police said he suffocated his wife in January 2012.

The prosecution called Dr. Allecia Wilson, the former Genesee County Deputy Medical Examiner, to the stand.

Defense attorney Frank Manley questioned the one witness for over an hour, trying to figure out if the woman could've actually commit suicide.

"The scene makes sense as best that someone else did this to her and not jumping through those 20 hoops of possibilities that she did it to herself," Dr. Wilson said.

In January 2012, 38-year-old Shane Bartels was found dead outside her Flint home with a bag taped over her head and bruises and scratches on her head and knees.

Dr. Wilson ruled her death a homicide, saying Bartels was killed by suffocation.

Flint Police considered her death suspicious at the time, but the case went cold until about a month ago.

In March 2018, her husband, 52-year-old Frank Bartels, was arrested and charged with her murder.

Frank Bartels was also arrested by the FBI at one point during these past 6 years. Court records show he was sentenced to nearly 4 years in federal prison in 2014 on a felony weapons charge.

Manley maintained Bartels' innocence, adding a suicide note was found on scene the night of his wife's death.

"Anytime you have a cold case, it's a difficult case. The case is one of circumstantial evidence. There are a number of different circumstances and fact patterns that are involved. It's our position and our client's assertion that he's 100% innocent," he explained.

There were several family members for both Shane and Frank Bartels inside the courtroom.

Shane's older brother broke down in tears before he could sit down for an interview.

Frank's side of the family is not able to speak until the case is over.