Sentencing continued in murder case

John Richmeier
Barbara M. Frantz

Sentencing has been postponed for a woman who was convicted of murdering her estranged husband in downtown Leavenworth.

Barbara M. Frantz was scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday in Leavenworth County District Court for first-degree murder. But Judge Michael Gibbens said he could not go forward with the sentencing because Frantz’s attorney, Stacey Schlimmer, did not show up for court.

“I would love to go forward, but we have a constitutional problem when defense counsel is not present,” Gibbens said before the start of Tuesday’s hearing.

Gibbens said he will appoint a new attorney to represent Frantz. The judge scheduled a hearing for June 23.

Gibbens said the sentencing may not take place on June 23 because Frantz’s new attorney may need more time.

Frantz, 54, was convicted of the murder charge in 2018.

She was charged after her estranged husband, Gary, was shot Jan. 27, 2017, in a parking lot in downtown Leavenworth.

Frantz has remained in custody during the course of her case.

Gibbens said Tuesday that he filed a written order June 1 denying a defense motion for a new trial in the case. The judge said he also issued an order at that time setting the sentencing for Tuesday.

Gibbens said Assistant County Attorney Shawn Boyd had sent a notice of the hearing to Schlimmer June 8.

Boyd said he received an email response from Schlimmer on June 10. The message indicated she had received the notification.

Gibbens said he had called a number Schlimmer had listed in court filings. But this number was for the office for another attorney, Angela Keck, who had previously served as co-defense counsel in the case. Keck withdrew from the case earlier this year.

Frantz said she was under the impression Schlimmer also had withdrawn from the case. Frantz said she based this belief on information she received from a disciplinary administrator for the state’s legal system.

Gibbens said the disciplinary administrator does not have the authority to allow an attorney to withdraw from the case. The judge said he had not received a request from Schlimmer to withdraw.

“She has not been permitted by me to withdraw,” Gibbens said.

Keck and Schlimmer had been retained in the case. But Gibbens said Tuesday that he doubted Frantz has the ability to hire a new attorney because she has been incarcerated for some time.

The judge asked Frantz to fill out an application for appointed counsel.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Frantz complained about what she said was corruption in the case.

“This court has tried to hide this from the public and my husband’s family,” she said.

Frantz argued her attorneys had not exposed the corruption. She alleged misconduct by the prosecution and police.

Franz also complained that her “basic human need” for medical treatment is not being met at the Leavenworth County Jail. Frantz said she has medical conditions that have become life-threatening.

Frantz said she has filed a motion seeking to be transferred to another facility.

Gibbens said he does not have control over where the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office houses her.

Frantz said she also has filed a petition for what is known as a writ of habeas corpus to address her complaints about her treatment at the jail.

Gibbens said the writ of habeas corpus case, which is a civil case, will proceed.

Frantz complained she filed the petition months ago but has not had a hearing.

Gibbens said many court operations have been shut down in recent months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Almost all civil cases have been delayed,” he said.

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