Court Rejects Woman's Appeal in Boyfriend's Murder

Denise Frei walks out of the courtroom following her sentencing at the Iowa County Courthouse on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011, in Marengo, Iowa. Frei was sentenced to the mandatory life sentence without parole. Frei was convicted of beating to death her live-in boyfriend Curtis Bailey, 33, of Marengo, with a rock and other objects July 19, 2009 in his home. Also convicted were Frei's son Jacob Hilgendorf and his friend Jessica Dayton. Hilgendorf and Dayton are serving life sentences. (SourceMedia Group News/Jim Slosiarek)

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By Liz Blood

MARENGO, Iowa - The first-degree murder conviction of a Marengo woman who beat to death her boyfriend in 2009 was upheld Friday by the Iowa Supreme Court.

Denise Frei, 47, was sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for the first-degree murder of her boyfriend Curtis Bailey on July 19, 2009. She was convicted Aug. 25, 2011 after a weeklong jury trial in Davenport.

Frei on appeal argues the trial court should have granted her motion for mistrial and by giving improper jury instructions on justification, insanity and reasonable doubt. Frei claimed insanity as her defense.

Frei beat Bailey, 33, of Marengo, to death with a rock and other objects in his home. She claimed she’d been verbally, physically and sexually abused by Bailey for six years and that she had to kill him to save the life of her son, Jacob Hilgendorf, and other family members.

Hilgendorf, 23 and his friend Jessica Dayton, 22, aided her by helping her plan to get Bailey drunk and then suffocating him with plastic wrap. The plan went awry when Bailey unexpectedly awoke and a struggle ensued. The three then used a rock, a candy dish and an ashtray to beat him until he was dead.

Hilgendorf and Dayton also were convicted of first-degree murder and are serving life sentences.

According to the court ruling, the trial court gave the proper instructions for a justification defense and reasonable doubt, which included legal elements and didn't violate her due process rights.

Frei also argues the insanity instruction she submitted, which put the burden of proof on the state, shouldn't have been denied by the court but her argument on appeal is different from what she raised in her motion for a new trial so the court couldn't review that argument.
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