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Prescott man gets prison in stabbing case

Dennis Allan Frank

ELLSWORTH — A Prescott man convicted of plunging a knife into a woman's neck was sentenced last week to prison.

Pierce County Circuit Court Judge Joe Boles said even though the near-fatal assault Dennis A. Frank committed last year on the woman appeared out of character to those who knew him, the hints of premeditation and the phony story he told police dictated a prison term.

The fake story, Boles said at the April 4 sentencing, was an attempt "to get him off the hook."

"If (the victim) hadn't made it, that's probably the only story that would have gotten out," Pierce County District Attorney Sean Froelich said at the hearing.

Boles sentenced the 67-year-old to five years in prison and four years on extended supervision.

The judge said he was also troubled by Frank's incomplete acceptance of responsibility for the stabbing.

"You're never quite able to get away from some minimization," Boles said.

Frank was convicted of aggravated battery and false imprisonment in a plea agreement that allowed one count of attempted homicide to be dismissed. He was arrested after the Aug. 15, 2017, incident at his Prescott apartment.

He called 911 to report the woman had been stabbed by a burglar who broke in and slipped out before police arrived. Officers later learned Frank was telling a fictitious story and had committed the assault himself.

A doctor who treated her at the hospital testified at the hearing that the 51-year-old victim, Frank's roommate, could have died from her injuries.

"It was severe," Dr. Martin Richards said.

Defense attorney Liesl Nelson argued her client's run-ins with the law in recent years represented an extended aberration after years of law-abiding behavior. She said his struggles with a divorce in his 50s was attributable for the change in behavior — poor coping skills and alcohol use.

Frank, Nelson said, is a low risk to reoffend and would have benefitted from rehabilitation on parole, though she conceded that at least a couple years of prison were "more reasonable" than the 13-15 years of prison Froelich was seeking.

Frank apologized to the court during his time to speak.

"I am truly sorry for what I did on that day," he said, adding that he hopes the victim will someday forgive him.

And while Boles acknowledged the role Frank had played as a Prescott food shelf volunteer, he was moved by a need to protect the public, especially given the escalating violence in Frank's offenses.

"She did not deserve to be stabbed," the judge said. "She did not deserve to be held against her will."

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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