Beware of Prosecutors Bearing Gifts

One of the unexpected items in the Ryan Frederick preliminary hearing was the dropping of the charge for possession of marijuana. The first reaction to that news might be relief that at least that is one thing Frederick doesn’t have to worry about. But since that was the one charge that appeared to be a slam dunk conviction, dropping it seems to be irrational, and prosecutors seldom do things without a reason.

So, what is different about that charge and the more serious murder and firearms charges? Well, for a start, the possession charge rests entirely on the results of the search warrant, while the others are supported by testimony from the police.

What if there is a serious problem with the warrant? Is it possible that the possession charge was dropped in order to keep those problems from the eyes of the jury when considering the more serious charges? And what if the problems with the warrant reflect on the other testimony from the police?

The last thing any citizen would want to believe is that a police officer would use deception to obtain a warrant, but there are some serious credibility problems here. Let’s look at the original affidavit used to obtain the search warrant. You can view it at http://tinyurl.com/4ld4bf

The affidavit requesting the warrant maintains that the confidential informant had a long history of providing reliable evidence to the officer requesting the warrant and that the officer had participated in controlled buys with the informant. But other events have called the reliability and history of this informant into question, and he is now believed to be a fugitive. What if it turns out that the reliability of the informant and depth of the investigation were exaggerated in the course of persuading the magistrate to issue the warrant? Might that not get the original warrant challenged and further call into question the credibility of the officer who obtained the warrant?

Well, the warrant was obtained by none other than Det. Kiley Roberts, the prime witness against Frederick in the murder charge. If the warrant were made relevant to the testimony by prosecuting the possession charge, the doubts about the warrant could cast doubt on all of his testimony under cross examination.

I would not accuse Det. Roberts of consciously lying to convict an innocent man, but a fellow police officer and friend died as a result of this mishandled investigation and raid, and it is only human, when things go so horribly wrong, to see things in a light that shifts responsibility to others. It is this human ability to refuse to see what we cannot bear, rather than malice toward Frederick, that I believe is driving this prosecution, which to those of us who see it from a distance, seems so irrational.

The Chesapeake Police Department must be more open with the public and accept its responsibilities in this tragedy if they are to win back the trust of the public which has been lost due to this disaster and the ensuing obfuscation. Trust does not come from never making a mistake, but from how we acknowledge and correct mistakes when they occur.

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4 Responses to Beware of Prosecutors Bearing Gifts

  1. John Wilburn says:

    The one thing that has bothered me the most in the City of Chesapeakes’ (mis)handling of this tragedy, is the legality / illegality of the warrant that was being executed. It seems to me, that one of the intentions of the obfuscation is to distract the public from speculation about this point (in much the same way as a magician uses one hand, to distract your attention from his other hand).

    It is conceivable, for starters, that the reason the prosecutor is dropping the (misdemeanor) possession charge, is because the reefer was found while executing an illegal warrant, which would cause the evidence to be thrown out (because it was obtained illegally) which would serve to eliminate the one (extremely lame) justification for the police raid – possession of marijuana.

    By, “magnanimously” dropping the misdemeanor possession charge, and threatening to replace it with a felony drug charge (use of a firearm, while in possession of a controlled substance, or something like that) we are again being distracted away from the likelihood that the warrant was illegal.

    The first degree murder charge is probably based on the law that protects police officers from interference and harm (and imposes much stiffer penalties) while they are in the performance of their duties. If the warrant was illegal, they are no longer police officers (lawfully) performing their duties – they become armed thugs (Nazis) engaged in the unlawful invasion of an American Citizens home. If this is indeed the case, Mr. Frederick had every right to protect his life and property from said invasion.

    Whatever the specific wording of the law: If you exist (live) you have a right to that existence (life). If you have a right to exist (live), you have a right to protect your existence (life). Anyone who wants to debate this will lose…

    Two other questions that come to mind; 1) why is CPD declining to release the results of their internal investigation? 2) Why didn’t the officer who acted in the role of “breacher” (swung the 40 lb battering ram, missed his target) testify, along with Detective Roberts?

  2. Debra L says:

    I believe that the circumstances under which the search warrant was obtained by Det. Roberts lies at the heart of this case. If the warrant was obtained falsely, police were indeed conducting an illegal raid on a citizen’s home.

    Please comment further on the statement from your post “But other events have called the reliability and history of this informant into question, and he is now believed to be a fugitive.” Has the informant given a statement? Would that statement (if it exists) be included in the internal police reports? Is he or she a fugitive?

  3. Don Tabor says:

    WTKR Channel 3 reported that the informant is named “Steven” who is known to Ryan Frederick and who had recently been arrested for larceny. He is now believed to have left the area and is a fugitive. see http://www.wtkr.com/Global/story.asp?S=8338638

    If he indeed initially reported Frederick to police in November, then he was allowed to continue committing crimes in the interim. The WTKR story appears to conflict with the time line in the warrant for the affidavit in which the informant was said to have been working with the Detective since November. The WTKR story claims the initial contact was only in January when ‘Steven’ was arrested for stealing credit cards.

    In any case, he is someone with a personal grudge against Frederick and hardly a reliable person on whose claims lives should have been put at risk.

  4. Gen says:

    http://antipolicemisconduct.meetup.com/37/messages/boards/

    This site is run by family and friends of ryan and shows court dates and news information..Please join and leave your comments!

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