Murder suspect Matthew Mark Fruge, 34, of Boyne City, was found to be competent to stand trial in a hearing held in the 90th District Court on Thursday Dec. 31.
At the brief hearing, Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof asked Judge James N. Erhart to consider the report of the State of Michigan’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry.
Defense attorney Bryan Klawuhn did not object to the report and neither side presented any witnesses.
Erhart stated that, after reviewing the 10-page report, he found Fruge competent to stand trial and scheduled the preliminary examination in the case for 1 p.m. on Jan. 14.
Klawuhn indicated to the Court that there may not be a need for a preliminary examination but the decision would be made after review of the autopsy and toxicology reports in the case.
Fruge is charged with open murder related to the death of Jacob Conklin, 34, on Oct. 1, 2015.
“The charge against Fruge is a mere allegation at this point and he is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law,” Telgenhof stated.
The stabbing occurred the evening of Thursday Oct. 1, in the private community located along Lake Charlevoix not far from Horton Bay—an area probably best known because Ernest Hemingway spent many childhood summers there.
“Matthew Mark Fruge, 34, of Boyne City, was charged with the murder of Jacob Daniel Conklin, 34, of Arcadia, Fla.,” stated Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof in an Oct. 2 press release… “Fruge (allegedly) grabbed a knife and left his Bay Township home to confront Conklin. A witness came to the scene and found Fruge on top of Conklin, who was lying on the ground.”
He further stated, “They pushed Fruge off Conklin and discovered that Conklin was bleeding heavily from his neck and the knife was lying next to him on the ground. By the time officers arrived at the scene, Conklin was not breathing and was unresponsive. Paramedics arrived shortly thereafter and pronounced him ‘deceased.’”
According to Charlevoix County Sheriff W. Don Schneider, prior to arrival on the scene, deputies—along with Boyne City Police officers—encountered Fruge, who was taken into custody after a brief struggle with police.
According to Schneider, Conklin was a prior resident of East Jordan.
Fruge was arraigned in Charlevoix’s 90th District Court on the morning of Friday Oct. 2.
“A ‘not guilty’ plea was entered on Fruge’s behalf,” Telgenhof stated.
According to Telgenhof’s press release, the court has granted Telgenhof’s request that Fruge be held without bond, finding that the accused “presents a danger to the public and that there is a likelihood of guilt in the case.”
Telgenhof said a “probable cause” conference is scheduled for Tuesday Oct. 13.
A preliminary examination in the case is scheduled for Tuesday Oct. 20.
Fruge has been assigned court appointed attorney Kyle Legel of Gaylord.
“Once again, Charlevoix County police officers worked together in a very cooperative manner, with the sheriff’s (office), Boyne City Police and the Michigan State Police all playing key roles in the investigation,” Telgenhof stated. “The officers responded very well in a very difficult situation.”
According to Telgenhof, an “open murder” charge allows a jury to decide what degree of murder is appropriate, if any.
If found guilty of first degree murder, Fruge could face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
Telgenhof said a second-degree conviction does allow defendants to be eligible for parole.
Schneider said the murder investigation continues with assistance from the Michigan State Police Crime Lab of Grayling.
Schneider also thanked the Boyne City Police Department, Boyne City EMS, Michigan State Police, and the Charlevoix County Victim Services Unit for their assistance at the crime scene.