Thursday, August 30, 2001

Casino murder
defendant makes deal

The man was involved in a burglary
that resulted in the death of
a woman from Maui

From staff and news reports

LAS VEGAS >> A 31-year-old man arrested for the fatal shooting of a tourist from Maui at Harrah's hotel-casino will enter into a plea agreement.

Deputy Special Public Defender Dayvid Figler said Tuesday that Michael Frimmel will plead guilty to four counts of burglary next month in exchange for a number of other charges, including murder, being dismissed.

Frimmel could receive as little as probation or a one- to 10-year prison sentence.

Authorities believe Frimmel and Stephen Mullen Jr. were involved in a number of thefts from various casinos in the days leading up to the Sept. 8 death of Heather Vitarelli, 29, a Baldwin High School graduate who attended college in Napa, Calif., and was vacationing with friends in Las Vegas.

Heather's sister Sandra Vitarelli of Maui said she thought probation might be too lenient.

Vitarelli, whose religious Quaker group does not believe in capital punishment, said she hoped Frimmel would serve prison time in a place where he could be rehabilitated.

"That is the feeling of our whole family," Vitarelli said.

Vitarelli said whenever she recalls memories of Heather, she thinks of a "happy, very peaceful and loving person."

Las Vegas police said Mullen fired his gun while security officers were trying to detain him and Frimmel in connection with the thefts.

One of the shots hit Vitarelli, 29, in the back, and the other hit a security guard in the abdomen.

The guard survived.

Two weeks ago, Mullen took a plea bargain and admitted the state has enough evidence to convict him of first-degree murder and attempted murder.

He will be sentenced Oct. 16.

E-mail to City Desk

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