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Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Nevada seeks
man in killing
of isle woman

By Jaymes K. Song

Police in Nevada are looking for one of the two men charged in the fatal shooting of a Maui woman inside a Las Vegas casino.

Michael Frimmel, the suspected accomplice to alleged gunman Stephen Mullen, was released the day before prosecutors filed formal charges Friday against him and Mullen. A warrant has been issued for Frimmel's arrest.

Mullen, 32, and Frimmel, 31, are accused of murder in the shooting death of Heather M. Vitarelli, 29, inside Harrah's Hotel and Casino Sept. 8.

Frimmel was released Thursday because there wasn't enough probable cause at the time to hold him on the murder charge, said Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher Laurent.

However, Mullen remained locked up at the Clark County Detention Center.

Murder charges were filed on Frimmel after prosecutors were able "track his steps," and prove he was working with Mullen, Laurent said.

Vitarelli was shot in the back by Mullen as he struggled with Harrah's security guards who were trying to detain him, police said. Security guards recognized Mullen and Frimmel on surveillance video for previous thefts from casino patrons.

A 43-year-old Harrah's guard, Frank Willis, was shot in the stomach but has been released from a Las Vegas area hospital. Vitarelli was living in California, where she was attending college at California State Universit-Hayward.

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