St. Clair County jurors convict Collinsville man of first degree murder

By The Madison County Record | Nov 25, 2014

St. Clair County jurors on Nov. 21 found Donald Friese of Collinsville guilty of first degree murder in the death of 18 year old Mercedes Ferrarie-Troisi.

Assistant state’s attorney Deb Phillips and witnesses convinced jurors that Friese purposely steered a GMC Yukon truck into a Buick at 100 miles per hour.

The Buick crashed and Mercedes, a passenger, suffered fatal injuries.

Notes from jury deliberations show they split over a first degree conviction but reached agreement after deciding they could not find Friese guilty of a lesser offense.

For three days they heard evidence of bad behavior among the state’s witnesses but not a word about Friese’s criminal record.

He would have occupied a prison cell at the moment Mercedes died, if Congress had not softened crack possession penalties in 2011.

He petitioned for retroactive reduction of a 10-year sentence he had accepted in 2008, and District Judge Michael Reagan granted it in 2012.

Friese soon gained his freedom, and on April 29, 2013, Mercedes lost her life.

Friese ran from the scene of the collision he caused, and hid for two weeks.

Prior to trial, prosecutor Phillips moved to admit evidence of his federal conviction and four previous felonies in St. Clair and Madison counties.

Circuit Judge Zina Cruse denied the motion, but Phillips prevailed without that evidence.

“Phillips did a fantastic job,” said Mercedes’s mother, Lisa Ferrarie-Darron of Caseyville.

“Not one person took the stand on the defense,” she said. “One of his people testified for us.”

In July, she and husband Kenny Troisi filed a wrongful death suit against Friese, Yukon owner Dennis Torres, passenger Gina Torres, and Buick driver Brandy Hayes.

The suit remains pending before Circuit Judge Vincent Lopinot.

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