By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – A Canadian County Jail inmate faces the death penalty or life in prison for her role in the drug overdose death of another inmate.
Oklahoma City’s Cydnei Tysha Mitchell, 31, was charged March 16 in Canadian County District Court with first-degree murder and bringing contraband into jail.
“She’s being charged with bringing drugs into the jail, which another inmate took and died from,” Canadian County Sheriff Chris West said.
Prosecutors with the Canadian County District Attorney’s Office allege Mitchell’s actions caused the death of inmate Kristina Marie Franz, 29, by committing the crime of unlawful distribution of a controlled dangerous substance.
“She overdosed,” West said. “We found her in her cell March 5.”
Franz, of Oklahoma City, was taken to the El Reno hospital then transferred to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Oklahoma City where she died March 6.
Franz was being held without bond at the Canadian County Jail on first-degree murder and third-degree arson charges stemming from an October 2020 incident near Mustang.
A jury trial had been set April 4 before District Judge Paul Hesse; that case was formally dismissed March 10 because Franz died.
Mitchell had been serving 30 days on weekends in the Canadian County Jail as part of a two-year deterred sentence in a 2019 case for exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult by deception or intimidation, according to court documents.
“She was allowed to come in and do her time on weekends,” Sheriff West said. “She’d come in on Friday and leave on Sunday.”
The investigation continues into Franz’s drug overdose death at the Canadian County Jail.
“We’re not finished,” West said. “There’s going to be some more charges brought forward.”
First-degree murder is punishable by death, life in prison or life in prison without parole.
Bringing contraband into jail is punishable by five to 20 years in prison.
ALLEGED VICTIM, ALLEGED MURDERER
The alleged victim had been charged in connection with the Oct. 4, 2020, murder of Richard Pierce, 42.
Franz allegedly shot Pierce in the head with a handgun, killing him, while she and accomplice Johnathon Reese Erickson were committing an armed robbery.
First responders were called to a reported car fire about 9 a.m. Oct. 4, 2020, near S.W. 104th and Morgan Road in southeast Canadian County.
After the fire was extinguished, a body was found inside burned beyond recognition. Oklahoma City police investigators determined the victim sustained injuries consistent with a homicide before the fire started.
The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office used dental records to identify Pierce as the victim.
Oklahoma City police officers on Oct. 7, 2020, arrested Franz and Erickson at an apartment complex near N.W. 10th and Meridian in Oklahoma City.
“Erickson stated Kristine Franz told him she killed the victim,” according to a probable cause affidavit signed by police inspector Ken Whitebird.
“She told Erickson she shot the subject in the head.”
Investigators found a 25-caliber semi-automatic pistol and several items belonging to the victim in Franz’s apartment.
Erickson, 29, pleaded guilty Feb. 16 in Canadian County District Court and was convicted of the felony offense of accessory to first-degree murder for his part in the incident.
Judge Hesse sentenced Erickson to serve 12 years in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections – 10 years in prison and two years of supervised probation after his release.