Art Schultz wants to see his wife's slayers brought to justice before his life ends, and that's the reason prosecutors chose not to pursue a death penalty case against the three men accused in the March 21 shooting death of 73-year-old Frances Jane Schultz.

She was tied up with duct tape and shot in the head multiple times during a burglary of their Zachary home.

The three Ethel men arrested in the crime — Brothers Adrian "Rat" Curtis, 24, and Courtland "Marlow" Curtis, 25, and friend Donevan Germain "Nunnie" Brown, 22 — were indicted Wednesday by an East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury on second-degree murder and aggravated burglary, meaning they would be sentenced to life in prison if convicted on the murder count.

District Attorney Hillar Moore III said he and Art Schultz firmly believe a death sentence would be an appropriate punishment if a conviction is obtained, but Moore said 76-year-old Art Schultz understands a capital murder prosecution is a very lengthy process.

“Based on his age, he wanted to see justice done before his life ends,” the district attorney said, adding that he met with the victim’s husband and their son several times to discuss the case and the law.

The grand jury was asked to indict the three men on second-degree murder, which is what Art Schultz requested, rather than first-degree murder, which was the charge on which they were booked in late March.

Moore called Art Schultz’ request merciful and said it was one he chose to honor.

Frances Schultz, who was bound with duct tape and shot in the head, was found by her husband of 54 years in the living room of their Brian Road residence after he returned from a funeral for an old friend.

Shultz's husband had previously hired Adrian Curtis to help bale hay, authorities have said.

Art Schultz had a hay baling business on the couple's property and also kept horses, often hiring help to assist him, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux has said.

Gautreaux called the crime “totally heartless” and “vicious” at a March 29 press conference announcing the arrests. Zachary Police Chief David McDavid labeled the crime “hideous” and “evil.”

Adrian Curtis told investigators that Brown drove him and his brother to the Schultz home, according to the men's arrest warrants. Once there, Adrian Curtis said, his brother used his shoulder to force his way through the home's front storm door and then dragged Frances Schultz into the living room. All three men tied her up with duct tape, binding her arms and legs, and covering her eyes and mouth, the reports say.

The front door into the home showed signs of forced entry with the glass apparently kicked out.

They then rummaged through the residence, opening drawers and closets looking for valuables. According to their arrest reports, the men took two guns as well as a solitaire diamond ring. Gautreaux has said other valuables were taken.

Investigators believe Courtland Curtis used one of the stolen guns to shoot Schultz in the head multiple times, the sheriff said.

Investigators were also able to match DNA from her fingernails with Adrian Curtis, according to arrest documents. There were many signs a struggle occurred between the woman and her assailants, the documents say.

Art Schultz, 76, spoke to The Advocate the morning after his wife was murdered and said he attended a funeral for an old friend the evening before and stopped at McDonald's to pick up a fish sandwich, fries and a Coke for his wife. He said he tried calling her a few times while driving home but received no answer. He said he wasn't worried because he had never before felt unsafe in their rural community.

When he arrived, he found his wife tied up in the living room and suffering from head injuries.

He described his wife as “giving, caring and a very pretty lady."

“A good country girl who would do anything for anybody," he said. "We spent our lives together."

Art Schultz could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Gautreaux said Adrian Curtis became a suspect because at the Schultz house his nickname and phone number were written on a notepad, which the couple often used to write down important information or notes to each other. Art Schultz later told investigators the note was not there when he had left the home that day for the funeral; he recognized the handwriting as his wife's.

Investigators believe Frances Schultz wrote down Adrian Curtis' name that night when he first approached her, possibly thinking he had come to complete some work, the sheriff said.

Gautreaux has said it was fortunate Art Schultz was not home at the time the three men came to the home; otherwise, deputies might have investigated a double homicide.

The Curtis brothers, of 7903 John Turner Lane, and Brown, of 6179 Kinnons Lane, remain in custody. Courtland Curtis, also known as “Marlo,” also was indicted on a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and possessing contraband — a cell phone — in a penal institution.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.