Florida man found guilty in beating of 90-year-old veteran
By SUZIE SCHOTTELKOTTE | The Ledger | Published: September 1, 2018
BARTOW, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — A month after his death at nearly 91 years old, Bill Fraiser found posthumous justice in a Polk County, Fla. courtroom Thursday.
A six-member jury heard a day of testimony before convicting Gregory Leonard Krizsan, 25, of Winter Haven, of battery on a person 65 or older. He faces up to five years in prison when he's sentenced Oct. 12 by Circuit Judge Keith Spoto.
Fraiser, an Air Force veteran and retired nurse, was shopping at the Publix store in Winter Haven's Northgate Shopping Center last Oct. 25 when he backed his car into a vehicle in which Krizsan was a passenger.
Moments later, according to Winter Haven Police reports, Krizsan approached Fraiser's car and began yelling obscenities at him.
Fraiser, a Lake Wales native, stepped from his car, police reported, and was confronted by Krizsan, who slapped him in the back of the head during the confrontation and caused Fraiser to fall face-first onto the parking lot. Krizsan returned to the car in which he was riding and the driver sped away, police said.
Fraiser scraped his face and arms in the fall, leaving him with a heavy bruise covering his right eye, according to court records. But eyewitness testimony and surveillance video led Winter Haven Police officers to Krizsan, who was arrested two days after the confrontation.
Fraiser died July 27 of circumstances unrelated to the attack. It was a month before Krizsan was scheduled to stand trial, and after some witnesses in the case had begun waffling on their earlier statements to police.
But State Attorney Brian Haas said he felt strongly that the case should go to trial. Assistant State Attorney Mikaela Perry prosecuted it, and Bartow lawyer Michael Dicks represented Krizsan.
"Initially we have eyewitnesses in these kinds of cases," Haas said, "but as we see often, stories change and people don't necessarily want to cooperate."
That happened here, too, he said, and then Fraiser died.
"There was no question that Krizsan did it," Haas said Friday, "and when there are witness issues in a case like this, it's very frustrating. But we knew we had to press on and seek justice for Mr. Fraiser. This guy was trying to go to Publix and he gets attacked. It's outrageous."
The jury deliberated about an hour Thursday before reaching its guilty verdict. Krizsan, who had been released two days after his Oct. 27 arrest last year according to jail records, was returned to custody again in April after violating his pretrial release following an arrest for disorderly intoxication, according to court documents.
No one from Fraiser's family could be reached for comment Friday.