Man Who Found Fronsman Testifies She Said Culberson, “Fonse”

by Mackenzie Stasko on October 14, 2013 at 8:31 am

The man who found the burned body of 29-year-old Celeste Fronsman last year took the stand on Monday in the trial of LaFonse Dixon.

Mark Bretz was one of five witnesses who testified in court on Monday. Bretz recalled the day he found Fronsman in the middle of State Route 208 on Aug. 26. 2012 and said at first glance, he thought she was a deer. He said once he slowed down, Fronsman, naked and charred, threw herself on top of his truck pleading for help. He said while it was difficult to understand her, he was able to make out her first name. But during cross examination the defense questioned what Bretz said in his statements and whether or not he could really hear what she was saying

"She’s going back and forth, back and forth. I said Ok I’ll put that envelope in my back pocket. Fonse.. Dixon. And I’m not paying attention to it and I figure I got one name and one name it’s a done deal," Bretz explained.

Bretz said after calling 911,  he started to pray with Fronsman.

 "After the Lord’s prayer, I asked him to open up the pearly gates, let the angels take her in and make her better. And please accept this child, this Christian child. She opened her eyes and she looked at me and she said, ‘thank you.’"

Muskingum County Assistant Prosecutor Ron Welch went over numerous pieces of evidence taken from the crime scene and the vehicle used to kidnap Fronsman with an expert from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation who said while Dixon’s DNA wasn’t found on every piece of evidence, it was found on the masking tape.

"The next item up is a profile of the swab of the tube of the tape," said expert witness, Kristen Slaper. "It’s a mixture of at least three individuals and is consistent with contributions from Celeste Fronsman and LaFonse Dixon."

Muskingum County Detective Brady Hittle also took the stand. He described his investigation from day one saying Culberson and Dixon were suspects from the start. During cross examination, the defense asked Hittle why he would put two suspects in the same room during questioning.

Defense: "You don’t think that one witness could be influenced by what the other witness was saying?"

Hittle: "I’ve never put two suspects into a room together at the initial part of the investigation. Have I, when each of them is going back and forth said, ‘You know what, sit down, this is what we’re gonna do. You guys need to be open and honest.’ Have I done that? Absolutely."

Katrina Culberson and Monica Washington have already pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, kidnapping and aggravated arson in the death of Fronsman. Dixon is also charged with kidnapping and aggravated arson. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. The trial will resume at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday.