Tragedy To Unfold In Fatal Dui Trial

Prosecutors seek manslaughter conviction in crash that killed two

Jeff Johnston and Devin Grace Frantzke

Jeff Johnston and Devin Grace Frantzke

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Devin Grace Frantzke

The trial for a Valley man accused of killing two people in a rollover on Doll Baby Ranch Road while intoxicated last year is set to start next month in Globe.

Devin Grace Frantzke, 14, and Jeff Johnston, 55, of Payson, died instantly when the Jeep Wrangler in which they were riding rolled down an embankment near the end of Doll Baby Ranch Road.

The Jeep’s driver, Sharrod Lynn Stone, 44, walked away from the accident unharmed, but prosecutors have charged him with 13 crimes, including manslaughter, aggravated assault and Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

The jury trial will start at 9 a.m., Wednesday, May 22 in Globe before Superior Court Judge Robert Duber.

Authorities say Stone had consumed 15 beers before speeding recklessly in the early morning hours of July 15 down a narrow dirt road. His four-door Jeep held seven passengers, including Stone’s two sons and Devin, riding without a seat belt in the rear cargo area.

Gila County Sheriff’s reports gave the following account:

About 12:40 a.m., the homeowner at Doll Baby Ranch reported someone had stolen her car and driven it through her fence. Deputies found Stone driving the car about a mile from the ranch. Stone waved to officers to follow him and led them to an embankment. Some 50 feet below, officers saw the Jeep lying on its side at the bottom of a trail of broken branches and brush. Officers noted a “debris field” of open and empty beer cans and two people lying motionless on the hill.

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Jeff Johnston

The girl’s father, Mark Frantzke crouched over Devin’s body, sobbing and refusing to leave her side, reported former GCSO deputy Christian Young.

Stone admitted to deputies he had been drinking, according to the report. Officers found a cooler full of beer in the Jeep as well as a flask. The report indicated Stone had been drinking for most of the afternoon, including at Frantzke’s home, a restaurant and out on the dirt road.

Earlier, the group took a spin through the forest west of town in Stone’s Jeep, “a favorite event for the kids.” Then they returned to Frantzke’s home to load up on more beer.

The group went out again, heading down Doll Baby Ranch Road where Stone ultimately rolled the vehicle.

Frantzke told deputies he thought Stone had consumed as many as 20 beers.

One of Stone’s sons told detectives what he remembered from that night.

“We were having fun, but we were going a little fast and the next thing I knew we were rolling around, then I was with dead people.”

Last month, Frantzke, 44, pleaded guilty to child abuse for letting Devin get in the vehicle and letting her ride without a seat belt.

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