October 25, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No.
l:13-cv-1311-TWP-DKL - Tanya Walton Pratt, Judge.
Kanne and Sykes, Circuit Judges, and Darrow, District Judge.
Darrow, District Judge.
Frentz filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2254 after the Court of Appeals of Indiana
affirmed the denial of his petition for postconviction relief
in state court. That petition attacked Frentz's
conviction for the January 24, 2005 murder of his housemate,
Zackary Reynolds. Before his trial on that charge, Frentz had
filed a notice that he would pursue a defense of not guilty
by reason of insanity, but, after consulting with an expert,
did not pursue the defense. Frentz was convicted by a jury of
the murder, and of associated drug charges, and sentenced to
59 years of imprisonment. He appealed to the Court of Appeals
of Indiana, which affirmed. He then filed his postconviction
petition in Indiana court alleging ineffective assistance of
counsel for, among other things, not having pursued the
insanity defense. His petition was denied, and he appealed to
the Court of Appeals of Indiana, which affirmed the denial.
The Indiana Supreme Court denied transfer of the case,
Frentz filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the
Southern District of Indiana. The district court denied the
petition, and declined to issue a certificate of
appealability. This Court then granted the certificate,
finding that Frentz had made a substantial showing of the
denial of his right to effective assistance of counsel
because counsel failed to pursue an insanity defense.
the Indiana appellate court did not unreasonably apply
federal law in denying Frentz's postconviction petition,
we now affirm the district court's decision.
who was 53, lived with Reynolds, 23, who worked on
Frentz's farm in Orange County, Indiana. Frentz was an
alcoholic and had been drinking heavily for 35 years; on
Saturday, January 22, 2005, his doctor told him that he would
die if he did not stop drinking. His doctor gave him
medication to deal with delirium tremens, a symptom of
alcohol withdrawal. He stopped drinking that day.
Sunday, January 23, Frentz ran errands, worked on a pickup
truck with Reynolds at the house they shared, and then ran
more errands. On his way back to the house Frentz stopped at
a fast-food drive-through in Salem, Indiana, between 10:00
and 11:00 in the evening. During this time he talked on his
cell phone with his friend Carl Brock. Frentz told Brock that
he had been "feeling bad, " and had been having
hallucinations, including, according to Brock "either
light poles or salt shakers dancing or something like that
... dogs running across the road laughing at him and stuff
like that." Worried, Brock asked Frentz to call him when
he got home.
called Frentz an hour or two later. Frentz asked Brock and
Brock's wife if either of them had heard from Dusty
Austin, Frentz's ex-girlfriend. Frentz claimed to have
been "fucked over" by a friend, Chuck Woolsey, who
he now thought to be involved with Austin. According to
Brock, Frentz went during this conversation from
"feeling ill and hallucinating to someone who was very
sober and [not] really talkative at all." Brock made
some jokes, hoping to lighten the mood; instead, Frentz hung
up. Brock tried calling him back immediately, with no luck.
about 3:30 a.m., Brock was able to reach Frentz on the phone.
Frentz sounded "freaked out, " and told Brock to
call the police. Frentz also said during this conversation
that "he put PCP in that shit and people [are] up here
to fuck with us." (Brock assumed this was in reference
to Woolsey) During the conversation, Frentz was
"hollering" at Reynolds, but Brock never heard
Reynolds say anything back. When Brock asked to talk to
Reynolds, Frentz hung up. When Brock's wife called Frentz
back and asked to talk to Reynolds, Frentz hung up again.
early that morning, two of Frentz's neighbors saw and
heard Frentz's pickup truck speeding down the road.
Frentz called 911 at about 5:30 a.m., and said that several
people were trying to break into his house. The connection
cut out several times, but Frentz conveyed that people had
broken into his house, that one of them was shooting, that
his friend had been shot in the chest but was still
breathing, that the people were still in his home, that they
were "trying to get in the windows, " and doors,
and that he had "locked the door back." Police
officers arrived at his house to find no signs of vehicle or
foot traffic outside. Frentz was standing in his kitchen,
looking disoriented and agitated. He opened the door for the
officers, one of whom saw an SKS assault rifle lying on a
kitchen chair. The police handcuffed Frentz, who was wearing
only underwear and a t-shirt and was "sweating really
bad." Frentz told the officers that motorcycle-riding
Mexicans had broken into his house and that there was someone
in his bed. There was no sign of anyone in Frentz's bed,
or any struggle or forced entry but the officers found
Reynolds, lying face-up in the hallway in a pool of blood, on
top of a loaded .22 caliber rifle.
dead, shot three times at close range. There were traces of
Reynolds's DNA on Frentz's shirt. A bullet lodged
near his spine was confirmed by forensic testing to have come
from the SKS. There were four shell casings in the hallway of
the same caliber as the SKS. There were three bullet-holes in
the door Reynolds had been standing in front of when he was
shot, and also several bullet-holes in Reynolds's bedroom
window. More shell casings, of the same caliber, were nearby.
told several stories about the events of that morning. First,
he told officers at the scene that he had been asleep in his
bedroom when he heard a scuffle at the other end of the
house. He said he had grabbed the .22, walked down the
hallway, and seen two Hispanic men leaving the house through
the back door. He said that he had had seen Reynolds fighting
with a third over the SKS, had put the .22 down and grabbed
the other man, and then had heard two ...