Morgan City man convicted of roommate’s beating death

A Morgan City man was convicted this week of grabbing a pipe in 2011 and beating to death a 38-year-old roommate, whose partially decomposed body was found stuffed inside an ice chest in a Bayou Sale cane field.

The 12-person jury deliberated less than an hour on Thursday before finding Darby Mack Frickey, 40, guilty of one count of second-degree murder of Mark Berthelot, said Bo Duhe, first assistant district attorney for the 16th Judicial District, which encompasses St. Mary, St. Martin and Iberia parishes.

Frickey will be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole, as established in Louisiana law for second-degree murder convictions. Judge Edward M. Leonard, who presided over the trial, will sentence Frickey on June 20.

Frickey was arrested by St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives in December 2011 after a search of his Morgan City home revealed Berthelot’s blood in the carpet, between the wood flooring underneath the carpet and on the ceiling, Duhe said in a prepared statement.

“After subsequent interviews, Frickey admitted to killing Berthelot on Oct. 5, 2011, but claimed he did so in self-defense,” Duhe said.

At trial, Frickey’s attorneys continued to insist that he killed Berthelot in self-defense, Anthony Saleme, the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case, said Friday.

“The defense did not contest that Frickey killed (Berthelot), just that he killed him in self-defense,” Saleme said.

Frickey and Berthelot were roommates when the beating occurred.

Berthelot’s family reported the 38-year-old missing on Nov. 10, 2011, Duhe said, and the farmer found Berthelot’s body inside the 150-quart ice chest eight days later. Officials sent Berthelot’s remains to the LSU FACES Laboratory for identification, Duhe said. After the body was identified, detectives searched the home and found Berthelot’s blood.

“Frickey ... became the focus of the investigation,” Duhe said.

Saleme said all of the witnesses, including FACES Lab Director Mary Manhein, and almost all of the evidence was put on by prosecutors. Frickey did not testify, he said.

The trial started with opening statements Tuesday morning and ended with the guilty verdict around 12:41 p.m. Thursday, Duhe said.

From 30 to 40 of Berthelot’s family members and friends attended the trial, Saleme said.