Son accused of killing father in Fossil Creek to decide on plea deal

Francis Klettke

Francis Klettke

CAMP VERDE -- A man charged with first-degree murder in the death of his father in 2015 at Fossil Creek faces life in prison should he elect to go to trial.

Francis Klettke, 22, was ruled mentally competent to stand trial in February. He was originally indicted on first-degree murder and abandonment of a dead body, and now faces a theft of means of transportation charge.

Klettke is currently out of custody on a $200,000 cash bond.

The State alleges in late October 2015, the body of a Union City, California, man, Dale Klettke, was discovered at a campsite near the main trailhead area off Fossil Creek Road. He had been shot several times and wrapped up in tent material, according to Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office. Officials later released he also showed signs of head trauma.

After interviewing campers in the area, Francis Klettke was identified as the primary suspect and later arrested and extradited from Union City.

At a Donald hearing on Tuesday, state prosecutor Michael Morrison said the plea agreement currently on the table would stipulate a sentence range of 16 to 25 years flat time for Klettke.

The State recommended 20 years as an absolute maximum.

Judge Michael Bluff indicated he would likely accept the stipulation in the plea agreement but could not say whether he would to follow the State’s recommendation. He told Klettke he would first need to review victim statements and any potential mitigation.

“That range seems reasonable to me, I just don’t know where I would be in there. I can’t tell you today,” Bluff said.

The State was willing to leave the offer open to the defense “as long as they need” to fairly assess the agreement.

Defense counsel John Hollis told the court the deal was unexpected and the defense would use time between now the next hearing to negotiate with the State.

“We understand there are certain facts present in this case – this was not the plea we wanted or accepted. We do understand it. I would appreciate a lengthy amount of time to go over it with Mr. Klettke,” Hollis said.

The conclusion of the Donald hearing will be held August 21, providing counsel with 60 days to review the plea offer.

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