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Beating death brings 50-year sentence

Family, partner tell of suffering after ’12 killing

Alexander

There are scenes that can’t be unseen, images that will stick with you forever, no matter how hard you try to wipe them away.

For Mark Allen, what awaited him behind the door of 5315 Lonesome Oak Court nearly a year ago will be with him forever.

First there was the blood splattered on the carpet and walls; then there was the body of his longtime partner, 42-year-old Gregory Funich.

There were multiple cuts to Funich’s head and face, some more severe than others, but what killed him is what someone had done to his skull.

Someone had beaten him so badly that his skull was shattered.

“It’s nothing I’d wish on my worst enemy,” said Allen on Friday in an Allen Superior Courtroom.

While Allen clutched a package of tissues and wiped at his eyes, merely feet away sat the man who had killed Funich, a man who within the hour would receive a 50-year prison sentence as part of a plea agreement he made with prosecutors.

Michael R. Alexander, 34, of Auburn, sat quietly as Allen spoke.

“He took away something that can never be replaced,” Allen said. “You took away the love of my life. I loved him dearly. You just don’t understand.”

Motive implied

Why Alexander beat Funich to death, landing him in front of a judge, has never been fully explained.

What has always been known is that IPFW police pulled over a car being driven by Alexander about 4:30 a.m. Aug. 10, 2012.

He was driving on a flat tire, smelled of alcohol and registered a blood-alcohol content of 0.178 percent, police said at the time.

Alexander had bloodstains on his shirt and pants and had Funich’s wallet, as well. The car also belonged to Funich.

The following morning, Allen walked into Funich’s home and discovered the body, prompting police to put together the pieces of what happened.

Allen County prosecutors later charged Alexander with one count of murder.

He pleaded guilty this year to voluntary manslaughter and theft as part of a plea deal that would net him a minimum of 40 years in prison.

Still, a motive for the killing was never released.

During the sentencing hearing Friday, Alexander’s defense team tried to couch its words in giving details of what led up to the beating.

Alexander and Funich had been drinking, said Indianapolis defense lawyer Jennifer Lukemeyer, and drugs were involved.

There was an “interaction between the two that was consensual,” according to Lukemeyer.

“At one point, Funich makes the disclosure about a disease that Alexander may now have,” Lukemeyer said.

That led to Alexander “seeing red,” and he then killed Funich before taking off in his car.

Lukemeyer and James Voyles, Alexander’s other Indianapolis defense attorney, both said during Friday’s hearing that their client took full responsibility for what he had done.

Funich’s family, though, was not ready to forgive him.

It’s doubtful they ever will.

Dad, brother speak

Sam Funich Sr. was brought to the front of the courtroom by his only surviving son, Sam Funich Jr.

He talked of Gregory, who always helped him around the house, and his wife, Margaret, whom he had been married to for 53 years.

“The first 52 were wonderful,” he told Alexander on Friday. “These last 10 months, after you murdered my son, my wife was a different person.”

She began seeing a psychologist, Sam Funich said, but it became clear she was beyond heartbroken about what happened.

Even an Allen County prosecutor would later testify about the strain the woman seemed to be going through every time he met her.

In June, Margaret Funich died at 72 years old.

“You took half my family away from me,” Sam Funich Sr. told Alexander. “I hope you think about this and what you’ve done. I’m handicapped. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

When Sam Jr. addressed the court, he kept his comments brief and directed them mainly to Judge Fran Gull.

He said he felt the defense would tell her Alexander has some sort of mental problem or a drug addiction, but he noted a lot of people have those problems and don’t kill.

He asked that Gull sentence Alexander the maximum she could give him, and also talked about seeing the grisly scene of his brother’s home in the aftermath of the killing.

Afterward, he turned to Alexander.

“I think you’re a piece of (expletive) and I truly hope you rot in hell.”

Then Sam Jr. walked back to the courtroom gallery.

Forgiveness denied

Mark Allen talked about forgiveness, too, and he had this to say to Alexander:

“It’s not something you’ll ever get from me. I hope you think about it daily … I hope it haunts you like it haunts me.”

Alexander’s defense lawyers explained they thought Gull should give him the minimum called for in the plea deal.

Their client was not skirting responsibility, they said, but he did indeed have mental problems that were documented from doctors in several states.

The confidential reports from these doctors painted a picture of someone with a troubled past and someone who acts out in violence without a structured environment.

Lukemeyer and Voyles argued that 40 years was enough for rehabilitation and justice – they were seeking nothing but an “appropriate sentence,” they said.

For his part, Alexander gave a brief statement:

“I know what I did can’t be undone. The only thing I can do is take responsibility for what I did and hope, in the end, God has mercy on me.”

Allen County Deputy Prosecutor Stephen Godfrey ran down a litany of Alexander’s past crimes, most of which took place in Missouri and Texas.

Some included charges of assault and battery, and he was out on parole and probation at the time of the killing, according to Godfrey.

And Godfrey said alcohol was found in Funich’s system but no drugs, contrary to what Alexander’s defense team said the two were doing just prior to the killing.

At the end of the hearing, Judge Gull gave Alexander 50 years in prison with a shade more than a year credit for time served in the Allen County Jail while his case wound through the legal system.

She also ordered him to pay $10,749 in restitution.

“What you did is unimaginable,” Gull said. “There’s nothing I can do that can make this better for anybody.”

After Gull pronounced her sentence, Alexander was taken away by sheriff’s officers while his family, some who had come from Florida, looked on.

His father was likely going to be given the chance to visit him in jail Friday night, but Alexander’s next stop would be a prison in the Indiana Department of Correction.

There he’ll be confined to a cell, and it’s anyone’s guess whether those images he burned into the minds of others will be going through his head.

Impossible to unsee.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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