French found guilty on theft, murder charges

Request to reduce bond from $750K to $10K denied by Sloma
By: 
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

A Green Bay woman is expected to get a prison sentence of 10-15 years after being found guilty of first-degree reckless homicide and theft May 16.

Stephany L. French, 29, of Green Bay, pleaded no contest to one count of first-degree reckless homicide by delivering drugs and one count of theft from a person or corpse. A misdemeanor count of duty to aid a victim or report a crime was dismissed.

According to Shawano-Menominee County District Attorney Greg Parker, his office is recommending 10-15 years for the reckless homicide count, where drugs were a factor, as well as five years in prison on the theft count. These sentences are expected to be run concurrently, he said.

If the plea had not been accepted, there would have been a four-day trial starting June 4, and two drug possession counts would have been part of the proceedings.

“There still may be some restitution, and we have some restitution that is listed in the file from the victims,” Parker said.

Defense attorney Eric Maciolek confirmed French would accept the recommendations from the DA’s office.

“I know she’s not content with the state’s recommendations, but she’s doing this voluntarily,” Maciolek said.

A presentencing investigation is underway, and the sentencing hearing will take place at 3 p.m. Aug. 20 in Branch I of the Shawano County Courthouse.

According to the criminal complaint, police from the Stockbridge-Munsee Police Department were dispatched Sept. 3, 2021, to Mohican North Star Casino Resort after security reported that a housekeeper found a deceased male while cleaning rooms.

The housekeeper stated that at 11:05 a.m. he knocked on room 508 and opened the door, because it was after checkout time. The housekeeper said that when he opened the door, he saw a male sitting on the floor. He closed the door, thinking it was a late checkout. At 12:35 p.m., the housekeeper witnessed a woman exiting the room, walking faster than what he perceived as normal. He added that he saw the woman take the stairs, rather than the elevator.

The housekeeper said he went back to the room 30 minutes later and saw the male sitting in the same position, with a lean to the right.

According to the complaint, the man was sitting cross-legged between the bed and the interior wall. There were two cellphone chargers plugged into the wall in front of him. The document also stated that there were three empty plastic cups on his lap and an empty hotel ice container and a head bandanna next to him. The man’s clothes were wet and his head was leaning to the right. Shawano County sheriff’s deputies found a white powdery residue on the nightstand next to the bed, but no drugs or drug paraphernalia were located in the room.

Hotel registration showed that Lynn French was listed as the man’s guest. After searching his vehicle, authorities found paperwork for the owner of the car. After speaking with the owner, he stated that the victim was with his cousin, Stephany French, and alleged that she had a $400 a day heroin habit. The victim’s family stated that the victim liked to drink alcohol, but he was not a drug user.

A detective stated in the complaint that the woman in a surveillance video was identified as Stephany French. The detective ran records on locating the victim’s cellphone, which was not in the hotel room. After finding the location of the phone, he did the same thing with French’s cellphone records and found that it matched the victim’s cellphone.

After French was arrested in De Pere, authorities received a search warrant for French’s car. In the car, they found several cellphones, including the one that belonged to the victim. Other things found in the car included a room key to room 508, three drug smoking pipes and a gem pack of drugs. One pipe and the gem pack tested positive for methamphetamine. Also found were narcan kits. Almost 40 ATM receipts were also found in the car, showing that French spent approximately $310 a day between July 22, 2021, and Sept. 20, 2021.

According to the complaint, the cause of death from the autopsy report was listed as fentanyl, methamphetamine and ethanol toxicity. It said that the toxicity included pulmonary and cerebral edema.

French was interviewed several times, where she repeatedly denied involvement, according to the complaint. After the detective told French that there was video surveillance of her entering the room, she continued to deny her involvement. After showing her still photographs depicting her in the hotel, she stated that she didn’t know what happened to the victim, according to the complaint.

After the detective explained that people overheat when using methamphetamine, he asked if the cups and ice tray were French’s attempt of waking him up or cooling him down. French stated that she poured cold water on the victim to try to wake him up, according to the complaint.

French has been in the Shawano County Jail for two years on a $750,000 bond, according to Maciolek. He requested that the amount be reduced to $10,000.

“She has very limited financial means. I know there’s a note in the complaint that she has a large amount of cash available,” Maciolek said. “I can tell you that money’s gone. The $10,000 requested by the defense is not something she can personally be able to post today. She’s relying on family to do that.

“She has lost the presumption of innocence after this plea, but $10,000 is still a substantial amount.”

Shawano-Menominee County Circuit Court Judge Katherine Sloma denied the bond reduction after Parker objected.

“There’s even more incentive for the defendant to flee (after being found guilty),” Parker said. “The court will recall that the defendant fled the hotel (in 2021), and officers had to find her.”

lpulaski@newmedia-wi.com