Well, Grand Juries do as Grand Juries do, I guess. I am disappointed, but not surprised, at the return of a capital murder indictment against Ryan Frederick. To some extent, that was just a technicality. Virginia law sets aside certain aggravating circumstances surrounding a premeditated murder for special treatment as capital murder, such as murder for hire and murder of a witness. An other of those is murder of a police officer, so, if the prosecutor believes he can prove premeditation, capital murder was the proper charge from the beginning. More troubling is the “manufacture of marijuana” charge. It is possible that evidence has turned up indicating that Fredrick at some time did grow marijuana even if it was no longer there at the time of the raid.
But even so, that has little bearing on the murder charge. Even had the police found the pot growing operation in the detached garage, Frederick’s guilt or innocence on premeditated murder hinges on whether he knew it was police at his door or believed his home was being invaded by criminals intent on doing him harm. It is true that the possibility of police at the door is more likely if one is committing a crime, but criminals get robbed too. Still, real evidence of marijuana cultivation is likely to influence jurors.
None the less, these questions remain unanswered almost five months after the raid.
Was the warrant properly obtained?
Why announce at the door “Police, Search Warrant, Open the Door” if there is no intention of allowing the occupant to open the door and peaceably accept the warrant. We now know from Det. Robert’s testimony that as soon as movement was detected in the house, the ‘8 ball’ signal was passed to immediately breach the door.
What would have happened to Frederick if he had held his fire and the police had succeeded in breeching the door to find him standing there holding a gun in their direction? Would we now be discussing his death instead?
Why has that .223 cartridge case STILL not been accounted for?
For that matter, why are other matters of fact about the case still being withheld?
And most of all, with all the more peaceable ways available to conduct this search, why did the Chesapeake Police choose the one method most likely to result in someone dying?