Murder trial to begin today
Darby Frickey Jr.
Jury selection is scheduled to begin today in the trial of Darby Frickey Jr., 40, accused of murdering Mark Berthelot two and a half years ago, and with the help of others, leaving his body, stuffed into an ice chest, in a Centerville sugar cane field.
Frickey has been in the St. Mary Parish jail in Centerville since his arrest Dec. 5, 2011, after police said he admitted killing Berthelot at the Carolyn Road residence the two men shared near Bayou Vista. He was indicted in January 2012 on a charge of second-degree murder which carries a mandatory life sentence upon conviction.
Berthelot, 38, had been missing since about Oct. 15, 2011, but was not reported missing until the beginning of November. His remains were found Nov. 18, 2011, in a sugar cane field near Centerville, about a mile-and-a-half south of the Intercoastal bridge off of La. 318, a detective said.
Frickey told St. Mary Parish sheriff’s detectives that he killed Berthelot by striking him 15 to 20 times in the head and face with a lead pipe, according to testimony presented in a June 25, 2012, bail reduction hearing.
Frickey said in his statement that Berthelot missed him with a punch while the two were alone and arguing, and the two fell down after which he ended up with the pipe that was never recovered, one of the detectives testified.
Frickey had the help of at least two people after the killing, detectives said at the hearing. “Mr. Connerly” said he was called by Frickey to help him take care of the body of a man he murdered and David Pierce helped load the ice chest with the body into the back of a pickup truck, a detective said at the hearing.
District Judge Gerard B. Wattigny refused to lower the $2 million bail.
Berthelot’s body was processed by the FACES laboratory at LSU and was identified through tattoos of his name and his daughter’s name on his body as well as the serial numbers from his artificial hip, according to the testimony at the hearing. The Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement laboratory assists law enforcement agencies with the recovery and identification of human remains.
Investigators discovered in the investigation of Berthelot as a missing person that he had a friend who worked at a taco stand in Bayou Vista and they interviewed several people there, a detective testified during a bail reduction hearing. On Nov. 29 a manager at the taco stand “came over with some information that may or may not be useful to the investigation,” the detective said. “She said that she was missing an ice chest.”
In April 2013, Darby’s defense presented a case to suppress statements that Frickey gave police on the grounds that the statements occurred after he said “I am done talking” and “I think I need a lawyer, dude,” according to the transcript of the proceeding. The motion was denied on the grounds that Frickey did not make an unequivocal assertion of his right to an attorney or of his right not to offer incriminating evidence against himself. Detectives testified that Frickey made a written request to speak to a detective after making the earlier comments and said in a video recorded statement, “I’m willing to talk to y’all.”
Frickey was charged two months ago with inciting to riot and criminal damage to property in a March 2 incident at St. Mary Parish Law Enforcement Center. He is accused of encouraging about 25 inmates to take over a room they were being held in which led prison officials to use Tasers and chemical spray to subdue the inmates. Frickey was accused of yanking down a light from the ceiling and banging it against the window during the fracas.