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Husband's pleas help gain wife's release

A woman with bipolar disorder whom neighbors have long complained about is released from jail to await her trial in July.

By TIM GRANT

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2001


CARROLLWOOD -- Wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and shackled with chains, the wife of a Carrollwood physician lowered her head and wiped her eyes while her husband pleaded this week for a judge to set her free.

Xochitl Lourdes Frank was arrested in February, charged with throwing a rock through a neighbor's window in Carrollwood Village. She was already out on bail for three felony charges.

While in jail, two medical doctors evaluated Mrs. Frank and determined that she is mentally competent to stand trial in July.

Pier Frank told Circuit Judge William Fuente on Monday that his wife has bipolar disorder. He said "at the time of throwing the rock, she was not on the ideal level of medication" and was "in a transition period."

After nearly two months behind bars, Mrs. Frank was released to await her trial on charges that include robbery, burglary and battery of a law enforcement officer.

Until then, Mrs. Frank, 37, is in the care of her husband. She cannot be seen outside of her house without him, and she is allowed to leave home only to go with him to work, Fuente ruled. Frank, who does laser hair removal, testified that his wife works with him at his medical practice, helping to evaluate patients.

This is the second time a judge has imposed restrictions on Mrs. Frank.

Hillsborough County Judge Elvin Martinez imposed a curfew on Mrs. Frank after neighbors accused her of late-night vandalism and thefts in Top of the Village. His curfew forbade her from walking along the sidewalks in her neighborhood.

For years, neighbors have accused Mrs. Frank of keying their cars, egging their homes, provoking fist fights and stealing their lawn ornaments and Christmas decorations. At least two neighbors sold their homes because of problems they had with Mrs. Frank.

Although Mrs. Frank has never been charged with vandalism or theft in her neighborhood, she has been arrested a number of times for other crimes, including battery of law enforcement officers.

"Whenever she encounters law enforcement, she fights," said state prosecutor Robert McCabe. "That's of utmost concern. . . . We are seeking to keep her in jail to ensure no further violence."

Fuente ordered the mental evaluation after her most recent arrest Feb. 22.

"My recollection of this case is we took her into custody and we were having a hearing on the state's motion to revoke her bail and something happened to cause me to question her competency and I ordered her taken into custody," Fuente said.

Mrs. Frank's lawyer, Ann Marie Mirialakis, argued that the doctors who evaluated her misunderstood the court order. Although Mrs. Frank is mentally competent now, Mirialakis said she was not competent at the time she was charged.

She said her client has admitted to some charges and the crimes are not as severe as they sound.

Mirialakis said the burglary charge occurred at an office where her husband had practiced before splitting with his former partners. The robbery occurred when Mrs. Frank struggled with a store employee who accused her of shoplifting and the law enforcement battery did not result in serious injury, she said.

Mrs. Frank is a native of Mexico. Because she is not a U.S. citizen, a felony conviction could result in her being deported, said Rodney Germain, a spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Miami.

"There are certain convictions that could result in a person being removed from the U.S.," Germain said. "If a matter is brought to our attention by law enforcement we would look at those cases, but there is no clear-cut answer because there's a lot of variables in every case."

Unlike Mrs. Frank's previous court hearings, there were no spectators Monday.

Gone are the angry neighbors who would sit together and often plead with the courts to have her locked away. Now it has come down to a faithful husband supporting his troubled wife by asking for the chance to nurse her back to good mental health.

Soon after the hearing, Mrs. Frank was released from the county jail and her husband drove her back to their Carrollwood Village home in a black Porsche.

- To reach Tim Grant call 226-3471.

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