Funk pleads guilty in murder case
By DONG-PHUONG NGUYEN
Published March 23, 2005
TAMPA - All Jason Funk knew about the insurance adjuster in the short sleeved blouse and khaki pants was that she was at his home to inspect a storm-damaged roof.
He could see that she was young and pretty, and had long brown hair. He invited her into his Sulphur Springs home.
Once inside, Funk viciously beat her over the head with a motorcycle muffler pipe and dumped her partially clothed body into the Hillsborough River behind his house.
On Wednesday, four months after her death, Funk learned that more than 700 people attended her memorial service and that she had a tender soul and kind heart. He learned she had two college degrees, would talk long into the night with her younger brothers and dreamed of becoming a veterinarian.
These memories of Katrina Anne Froeschle's 25 years on this earth were tearfully recounted Wednesday after Funk, 27, pleaded guilty to her murder, along with lesser charges of attempted sexual battery and drug charges.
In exchange for his guilty plea, which came days before his trial was scheduled to begin, Funk avoided a possible death sentence. Judge Denise Pomponio sentenced Funk to life in prison.
Funk did not speak to Froeschle's family or make any statements about the Nov. 12 killing. Wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and shackled by his hands and feet, he had no one to speak on his behalf in the courtroom except his public defender.
About 40 of Froeschle's family and friends, meanwhile, filled the gallery. Given the opportunity to speak, her parents, a brother and her best friend talked about the young woman who had been such a vibrant part of their lives. They told of the grief they now carry over her death.
The judge's eyes welled up with tears.
Amy Roderick, Froeschle's best friend and co-worker, was the last person to speak to her. Froeschle had called Roderick from her cell phone to make sure she was at the correct residence for the inspection.
"Her laughter is what I miss the most," Roderick said, reading from a notebook. "Katie only saw the good in people."
Funk either kept his head down or focused his eyes on the judge.
Froeschle's mother, Leonore Froeschle, said that as her daughter grew up, the bond between them deepened.
"(Katie) turned out to be more than the perfect daughter," she said. "She had become my best friend as an adult."
She thanked everyone involved in the investigation and prosecution.
"Thank you for treating us with such dignity and respect," she said. "For making me believe there is more good in this world than bad."
Froeschle's younger brother, Samuel, a high school senior, struggled to make sense of the crime.
"I don't understand why we have to go through all this pain," he told the judge. "These past four months have been the hardest time of my life."
Samuel Froeschle said he cries himself to sleep. He and his sister used to talk "endlessly at night..."
"I can't talk to my parents because it is so painful," he said in a shaky voice as sniffles echoed through the courtroom.
Froeschle's father, Jeff Froeschle, ran down a long list of his daughter's accomplishments, which included college scholarships, numerous memberships in clubs and raises at her new job.
"She lit up a room," he said. "She was a person who loved and was loved."
Mark Atkins, a former neighbor whose children Froeschle once watched, said she was the glue that held her family together.
"This beautiful family has become unraveled," he said. "They're putting their lives back together, trying to rebuild this foundation.
"We miss her great spirit and endearing soul."
[Last modified March 23, 2005, 19:58:02]
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