Three Saline teenagers charged with murder of a 19-year-old Michigan State University student made their initial court appearance Thursday, appearing only briefly before proceedings were adjourned to give attorneys for both sides time to prepare their cases.
The Clinton County courtroom in St. John was packed with spectators, including the family of the victim, Dustyn Frolka, who was tossed from a moving car on Feb. 15.
Eileen Hincka, Frolka’s stepmother, said she wanted to look the three teenagers – Samantha Grigg and Tyrel Bredernitz, both 18, and Brendan Heim, 16 – in the eye, the Ann Arbor News/MLive reports.
The three are all charged with felony murder, armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery in Frolka’s death.
“I wanted to see their faces,” Hincka said. “I just wanted to see them. And, I just hope they realize at some point that, if they’re convicted for this, they’re going to lose their lives.”
Grigg and Bredernitz will return to court for preliminary exams on April 1. Heim will be evaluated to determine his competency to stand trial and to determine if he can be held criminally responsible in the case, the newspaper said. The date of Heim’s next court appearance is not known.
Authorities allege the three teens robbed Frolka and beat him with brass knuckles before he was thrown from the moving vehicle onto Interstate 69, where he was found unresponsive. He died en route to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing.
Clinton County Prosecutor Charles Sherman said it appears the crime was drug-related.
Investigators are still working on the case and expect to have their reports finalized by Monday at the latest.
“Obviously, it’s very difficult for both the defense and the people to move forward without the reports,” Clinton County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Clarizio said, explaining the adjournment of Thursday’s proceedings.
The victim’s family said Frolka had made some errors in judgment. He had been arrested for possession of cocaine two weeks before his death. He’d also been kicked out of his MSU dorm.
“Dustyn has made some choices recently that were not the best choices, but he’s a good kid,” Hincka said, adding that her stepson had carried a high grade point average at the Southwestern Classical Academy in Flint, which carries an International Baccalaureate curriculum.
Also attending the brief proceedings was Frolka’s uncle, Joseph Kurylowich, who admitted his nephew had made some poor choices. “He was going to make something out of himself,” Kurylowich said. “But, he ran around with the wrong crowd and had too much money in his pocket, and they decided to beat him and rob him and throw him out of a car.”
Kurylowich expressed empathy for the families of the defendants.
“I couldn’t imagine my kid going away to prison for the rest of their lives, so it’s gotta be bad for them too,” he said.