The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of a Marengo woman who argued she was justified in killing her boyfriend because he abused her. Denise Frei was found guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of Curtis Bailey on July 19, 2009.

Court records show Frei got her son Jacob’s girlfriend to help her get Bailey drunk as he watched them having sex. They put plastic wrap over his head when he passed out, hoping Bailey would suffocate and his death would look accidental.

Bailey however woke up and tried to get free, so Frie and her son beat him to death with a rock and a candy dish. Frei originally said Bailey was killed in a drug deal gone bad, but later admitted to the plot.

During the trial an expert testified that Frei suffered from depression, posttraumatic stress syndrome, battered women’s syndrome, and possibly an anxiety disorder, in an attempt to raise an insanity defense. She also attempted to show the killing was justified as she said she suffered repeated sexual and emotional abuse from Bailey.

In her appeal, Frei said the district court gave improper instructions to the jury on the justification and insanity defense issues, and in allowing the prosector to mention that Frei blamed Hispanics for the murder in the drug deal gone bad.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Frei did not raise the insanity defense issue until her appeal, so it was not preserved for their review. The High Court also ruled the other instructions and actions of the district court did not deny Frei a fair trial, and they upheld her murder conviction.

See the complete ruling here: Frei ruling PDF