Mark Franta, wearing shackles on his legs and arms and wrinkled navy blue prison scrubs, wept Monday in Las Vegas Justice Court as a Clark County prosecutor detailed his wife's slaying.
Prosecutor Christopher Lalli, who was arguing that bail be set at $1 million, described how the 50-year-old defendant was caught on surveillance video dumping Marybeth Franta's body behind the Albertsons at Craig Road and Tenaya Way, in the northwest valley.
Lalli told Justice of the Peace Eric Goodman that when Las Vegas police confronted Mark Franta, he gave them "a story of all-out lies."
Marybeth Franta, a popular science teacher at Molasky Junior High School, died a slow death, Lalli said. Her body was "badly beaten" and her life snuffed out by strangulation, the prosecutor said.
Crying echoed throughout the courtroom filled with family members of both the defendant and the victim.
Goodman set bail at $1 million for Mark Franta, who is charged with one count of murder. He remains in custody at the Clark County Detention Center, according to jail records.
Deputy Public Defender Christy Craig had asked Goodman to set bail at $25,000, arguing that her client has family ties to the community and has every incentive to stay and see the case through.
"A million dollars might as well be no bail at all," Craig said, to no avail.
The couple's two children, both in their 20s, sat in the courtroom with Mark Franta's siblings. They were separated by several rows from members of Marybeth Franta's family, including several of her siblings.
After the hearing, Marybeth Franta's younger brother, Marine Col. Stephen Nitzschke, said his family appreciates the outpouring of support and sympathy from members of the Las Vegas community.
Her family is "hoping for justice," Nitzschke said, but it has been very difficult because they considered Mark Franta a member of the family. The colonel said it has been hardest on the two children.
"They lost two parents in this tragedy," Nitzschke said.
Nitzschke described his sister, older by one year, as kind, caring and considerate, and a positive influence on Las Vegas for more than 30 years. He described the couple as normal and could not speak to any prior incidents of domestic violence.
Mark Franta's family and the couple's children declined to comment after the hearing.
Craig said Mark Franta was despondent. She said he is concerned mostly about the two children and what this is doing to them.
Investigators said they think Marybeth Franta returned home the evening of Nov. 13 after attending a wedding and argued with her husband, who had been drinking. They allege Mark Franta then killed his wife.
Las Vegas police say video footage from two businesses shows Mark Franta early Nov. 14 near where his wife's body was found. Later that day, Mark Franta reported his wife missing. He was arrested Nov. 17.
There had been no documentation of domestic violence in the couple's marriage of more than 20 years. But family friends have said there was friction recently because Mark Franta, an ironworker, had lost his job.
News of Marybeth Franta's death has shocked many in Las Vegas, including students and colleagues at Molasky Junior High and members of the local equestrian community. She was a former director of the Nevada State Horsemen's Association.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review journal.com or 702-380-1039.