2012-10-14 / News

Trial to begin Nov. 6 in Warren murder case

BY PHIL FOLEY 810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com

LAPEER — Jury selection is set to begin Nov. 6 for the only person ever charged in the brutal 2006 slaying and mutilation of Marie Warren, an 86-year-old farm widow.

Circuit Court Judge Nick Holowka granted a prosecution motion to consolidate all charges against Frank W. Choate into one trail, but denied a motion by the 43-yearold Sandusky man’s attorney, Dave Brown, to postpone the trial until after the first of the year. However, Holowka left open the question of changing the venue of the trial and suppressing gruesome autopsy photographs.

Choate remains held at the Lapeer County Jail, where he’s been since being arrested at his Sanilac County home in July 2011, in lieu of a $1 million bond. He stands accused of murder, home invasion first degree; receiving and concealing a firearm; receiving and concealing other stolen property worth more than $1,000; obstruction of justice and possession of a firearm by a felon and felony firearm in connection with the burglary of Warren’s Deerfield Township home in October 2006.

Warren’s beaten, fingerless body was found the day of the burglary in a ditch between two trees off of Five Lakes Road by two women on horseback. Police have never found the dead woman’s fingers.

Earlier this month a former inmate testified at Choate’s preliminary hearing that he told him during a jailhouse chess match that he and his brother, Billey Choate, 40, went to the Warren home with the intent of burglarizing it. The witness said Choate told him they surprised Warren, who put up a fight and in the process scratched Billey’s face. The two men, said the witness, beat Warren to death and removed her fingers to prevent police from obtaining DNA evidence.

Lapeer County Prosecutor Byron Konschuh said he has a potential pool of 40 witnesses, but expects to call under 20 to the stand. He said he expects the trial to last seven to eight days.

With Thanksgiving set for Nov. 22 this year, Brown had asked the court for more time to prepare.

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