Frank Dienes appeared with a shaved head in front of Judge John J. Russo this morning. Media reporters there expected Dienes to plead guilty to the murder of Joe Kopp in a sentencing deal ironed out between defense attorneys and the prosecutor's office. But when lawyers noticed that new sentencing guidelines going into effect this very day might reduce the time Dienes would spend in prison, things changed.
With the possibility of a longer stay in the hooskow ahead of him, Dienes declined the deal and asked for a jury trial (scheduled November 14). As such, Dienes faces three charges, including Aggravated Murder, which could put him in prison for the rest of his life. The death penalty is not an option in this case.
Outside the courtroom, I caught Dienes' attorney, Eric Nemecek, by the elevators. I explained to him that saying Dienes was "ruled out" as a suspect in Amy's case was untrue and asked him if he would like to correct that statement (which he has made repeatedly to the media) in the presence of cameras. He declined and ran around the corner to avoid more reporters asking questions.
For the record, AGAIN, Frank Dienes has never been ruled out as a suspect in the murder of Amy Mihaljevic. Please stop reporting otherwise.
Do I believe Frank killed Amy? I don't know. I do believe he merits close scrutiny by police, in light of the location of his family's farm in Ashland County, the fact that Joe Kopp told people he knew Frank killed her, and the fact that he did work at the Mihaljevic's home. Not to mention his ties to North Olmsted.